Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day

At least, it is here in the States. That means that TCM is trotting out a lineup of movies about the Black American experience. In many years in the past we've gotten a bunch of Sidney Poitier movies which, while good, are a bit disappointing to have as the same thing over and over on the day. Granted it's not as if there was too much that the studio system did that can show on MLK Day. There are some films, but if you made it point to show those, you'd have roughly the same lineup every year.

For what it's worth, we are getting some of those movies this year. Hallelujah! comes on at 2:00 PM, while Cabin in the Sky comes on at 6:00 PM. In between those, at 4:00 PM, you can catch The Green Pastures, in which biblical stories are retold with a rural southern black outlook, starring Rex Ingram as God.

The more interesting part of the schedule is in the morning, when we get a couple of race films. These were movies produced by blacks, with all-black casts (except for where a white character was needed for plot purposes such as people having to confront racism) and targeted at black audiences. The race films covered a whole bunch of genres; black audiences had pretty much as broad a range of tastes as white audiences although as I understand it black audiences tended to like musical numbers even more than white audiences. There are mysteries, such as Miracle in Harlem which I have to admit is new to me; or a sort of standard musical drama in The Duke Is Tops at 9:15 AM, starring a very young Lena Horne as a woman who joins a producer's roadshow, falls in love with him, but has to leave when the big time beckons. There were even westerns, with singing cowboy Herb Jeffries who shows up at 10:30 AM in Harlem Rides the Range.

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