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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Top 10 Historically Significant Black Films (Not According To Me)

Ok, here I is, lol. For those of you who like my blog, I am much, much, more active on Twitter (sadly) and my username is @BlkCinemaAtLarg. I guess I should put that on here, but I'm waiting for my new site design.

Anyhoo, while on the great twitterville I came across Entertainment Tonight's "10 Historically Significant African-American Films". And let me tell you, it was the best list I've seen so far from a mainstream outlet, which was surprising, cause I find ET about as deep and relevant to Blacks as Ryan Seacrest.

Here is the list:

Cooley High

Antwone Fisher


What's Love Got To Do With It

A Soldier's Story

Do The Right Thing

Eve's Bayou

Boyz N The Hood

A Raisin In The Sun

The Color Purple

This is a great list, admittedly. There are a couple on there though, that while I do think are significant, are not necessarily historical. In the Black community, maybe, but not universally, which I believe was ET's intended stance.

So I wanna talk about two a day, to kick off my theme weeks. I think I'll start with A Soldier's Story and Cooley High, since those two are grabbing me today.

A Soldier's Story

I agree with ET's assessment on this one. As a child who went to the movies with a father who was just as a voracious movie-lover as Ms. Invisibelle, I remember that this was the first post-70's drama that was well directed, well written, well photographed, and well acted. This was an excellent story that had elements of suspense, mystery, and drama. It addressed an array of factors; racism in the military, the pressure of even being in the military, and wearing masks to hide our true selves from others.

I was very young, but I was completely captivated by the story in front of me. It is also the first time I remember having on screen crushes; despite his personal life (that I found out about afterward), Howard Rollins was a very powerful and amazing presence, and for some reason I was drawn to a very nerdy-looking and bespectacled Denzel Washington way before he was really known for anything...I guess he was born with it.

This film opened up a door that relayed Black drama was just as compelling, intense, and brilliant as anything else that was out there in the 80's or any other decade. I think it's a shame that there are certain entities (that will remain unnamed) that will play "Soul Plane" ad nauseum as opposed to playing this even once.

Cooley High

What can I say about this film? For some reason I love everything about it, so I'm in agreement with ET. It is the only film that I have seen more than repeatedly next to "Friday", and I never get tired of seeing it. What Cooley High has is:

*A sense of nostalgia, even if you weren't alive or remember the time period

*Great music

*Characters that made you care

*Comedy and drama well-balanced--one was just as interesting and watchable as the other

*A very brief glimpse that, for at least one month, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs was fine as hell

*A very brief glimpse that, for at least one month, Glynn Turman was not weird and creepy as hell

*Arresting wardrobe and on-point set design

*The breeding ground of the classic song by Boyz To Men "It's So Hard To Say Good-Bye To Yesterday"

*A coming-of-age story that was realistic and relatable

This film was testament that a very fine, touching, and universally Black story could be made on a relatively small budget. This film speaks to generations, and everyone from your grandparents to your grandchildren love it, and I really can't think of another Black film like that.

Tomorrow two more.


Candice Frederick said...

very, very good list indeed. ET came correct.

Unknown said...

Very good list.

Now let me tell you. . . .
I love "A Soldier's Story" . . ."they still hate you". HAHA. I can watch that movie every other Sunday. I really feel that if someone hasn't seen this movie they just don't know what they are missing. Great film.

Cooley High. Another favorite. I still get all flustered when I see my crush Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs . . .welcome back welcome back welcome back (hint a show he was on). It is a fun coming of age story to watch.

InMyJourney said...

What a great list! I need to add to my collection, I'm actually missing a few of those gems. But I already have the 2 you started with and yes, you're right they both excellent for all the reasons you already stated. I just had to add "What's Happening!!" as another reason to love Cooley High :)

Reese.Very. Frank. said...

Nice list! I have seen almost every film on it; Cooley High, What's Love Got to Do With It, Do The Right Thing, Antwone Fisher and Eve's Bayou are some of my favorites.

Sergio said...

I still hold to what I said about Cooley High on Shadow And Act when I wrote a piece about it last summer on the 35th anniversary of its release (just a month after Jaws):

"I have to say that I was never crazy about this film. A lot of baby boomer black folks love (and I mean LOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEE) this film. Not me. I wasn’t crazy about it when it came out and I’m not crazy about it today. First of all it doesn’t have Jim Brown or Fred Williamson beating up viciously racist white guys and sleeping with every chick they meet, so Cooley High wasn’t high on my list back then.

Also, I suspect that the film means a lot to people for whom high school was a wonderful experience. You know those people. I bet you can’t stand them either. The ones who were voted the most popular, knew every hit song and every new dance, was on every sports team and who all the girls were crazy about. Let’s just say that high school for me was pretty much the opposite of that experience, so I could never really relate to the film"

Sergio said...

P.S. Where are Devil in a Blue Dress and Glory on that list? Now talk about GREAT black films!

Ms☆Go said...

Excellent list!

A Soldier's Story, in particular, is my favorite of your list.

It was one of the first movies to make me cry as a young girl, and the first to really encapsulate race, so very well for me.

I miss Adolph Caesar. I wish he had gotten more accolades when he was alive.

Anonymous said...


Someone's read my review of this film, too.

Invisible Woman said...

which film? do i know you?

Movies Gallery 2011 said...

Videos of trailers are good. I enjoyed it lot. Good list of films. I bookmarked it. Thanks for sharing.

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Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing the article!! Can you recommend me best  black movies ? I am searching from so many days but I could not find it. Please help me.