Tuesday, August 16, 2016

James Edwards doesn't normally get honored

The TCM star for August 17 is James Edwards, a name that people are less likely to have heard of, if only because he was black and black actors didn't get the plum roles in Hollywood. TCM is showing a bunch of movies in which he has supporting roles, some of which I have to admit I wouldn't remember his presence.

Now, some of the movies it's obvious to remember. For example, take The Phenix City Story at 10:00 AM. There's one black family that gets relatively prominent mention, and that's Edwards as the husband. The Phenix City Story is worth watching on its own.

And then there's The Steel Helmet, at 6:15 PM. This one deals with a unit of soldiers in Korea who get cut off from the rest of their forces, and how they deal with it. Since the military had been integrated by this time, there's a black guy in the unit, and that of course is Edwards.

If black actors got leading roles, it was either in the rare all-black musical like Cabin in the Sky or Stormy Weather, or in a movie about racism, such as Home of the Brave at 8:00 PM. And then there's Bright Victory at 11:15 PM, in which Arthur Kennedy, blinded in World War, is befriended by a similarly blinded Edwards. Since they're both blind, race shouldn't matter, but of course it does.

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