Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm just a pasty white guy

I've read that black audiences in the bad old days of segregation liked all the same genres of movies as their white counterparts did. Sometimes, I find that hard to believe. But then, look what we have tonight. As part of TCM's look at singing cowboys, they're showing two race films starring black singing cowboy Herbert Jeffrey. First up at 10:30 PM is Two-Gun Man From Harlem, followed at 11:45 PM by Harlem Rides the Range.

To be honest, I would have wondered how popular westerns would be amongst the black audiences of the day. At least with other genres, they could be easily set in locales where there were a lot of blacks in real life. There were the "buffalo soldiers", but how many other blacks were there out west? Texas had slaves before the Civil War, while the rest of the west was either government territory not yet a state, or on the front lines of the anti-slavery movement. On the other hand, most of white America had no real connection to the Old West either, and the genre was popular among whites too. And doesn't everybody enjoy good escapism?

For what it's worth, I think I've seen Two-Gun Man From Harlem before, but not the second. Race films, though, are an interesting historical document, and even if these particular films turn out to be lousy films from a non-technical standpoint (as opposed to just having bad production values caused by the fact the moviemakers didn't have the budgets that the Hollywood studios did), they'll still be worth a look.

No comments: