I cannot start today’s topic without paying tribute to the music/media icon who elevated a local Chicago dance show to the longest continuously running, first run, nationally syndicated show in TV history. I am of course talking about the legendary Don Cornelius, who passed away Wednesday at age 75. The circumstances surrounding his death are being investigated, but despite what may have occurred he will always be remembered as the creator of a revered platform that highlighted and celebrated black music, fashion and dance culture. Nothing can or will diminish Don Cornelius’ contributions to American television, nothing.
So, being it is the beginning Black History Month, I thought it would be fitting to give a few recommendations of movies that are must sees if you haven’t seen and also programs to be aired this month as follows (in no particular order):
- Malcolm X (1992)= I am starting with this film because I recently had a close friend tell me she never saw the movie, for which I believe Denzel Washington should have won the Best Actor Oscar (instead of that whole Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman nonsense). Anyway, Spike Lee directed a cinematic masterpiece based on the life of the civil rights leader/activist and not only is it a must see, but a must have for the avid movie collector.
- Hollywood Shuffle (1987) = written, produced, and directed by Robert Townsend this comedy, which depicts the struggles of black actors in Hollywood, is too relevant almost 25 years later.
- Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999) = executive producer Halle Berry stars in this tragic tale of the first African-American to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award.
- The Great Debaters (2007) = another Denzel Washington driven vehicle based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson and the historically black Wiley college debate team that participated in the first interracial collegiate debate in the United States. Also features outstanding performances from Jurnee Smollet, Nate Parker and Forrest Whitaker.
- A Soldier’s Story (1984) = adapted from a Pulitzer prize-winning play, this drama featured a much younger Denzel Washington and starred Howard Rollins, Jr. and the late, great Adolph Caesar in a mystery about a murder in a segregated WWII army unit.
- Red Tails (2012) = in theaters now, this drama is about the famous first African-American WWII fighter pilots, The Tuskegee Airmen. See last week’s post for additional notes about Red Tails.
- The Color Purple (1985) = Okay, so I love, love, love this movie. I own it, and will stop and begin to watch if I find it while channel surfing. I had an opportunity to tell Danny Glover how much I appreciated his taking on the role of Mister and he kissed me!!!! Well let’s just say I don’t remember much after that, but I don’t believe I fainted :P This drama, which depicts Black life in the South in the early 20th century, had an outstanding cast, was beautifully filmed and the soundtrack is amazing. Adapted from the 1983 Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, it received 11 Oscar nods and won NONE. Yeah, I’ll leave that there before this post takes on another vibe :). In 2005 a musical adaptation premiered on Broadway and is also a must see if you haven’t seen.
- Crash (2004) = I think this Academy award winner was one of the best movies, in recent years, to tackle the issue of race relations in 21st century America. Also features a stellar cast, including Don Cheadle, Terrance Howard, Larenz Tate and Thandie Newton.
- The 2012 BET Honors = will air Monday, February 13th at 9pm on BET. You can also see last week’s post for additional notes about this program.
- The 43rd Annual NAACP Image Awards = will air Friday, February 17th at 8pm on NBC. If you are an NAACP member you still have time to vote for this year’s nominees at http://www.naacpimageawards.net/43/home/. Voting closes at midnight PST on February 12th.
Well that’s my list. I would also like to take time to acknowledge that since my gripe last post, TV ONE aired Find Our Missing this Wednesday night at 9pm, with a re-run showing immediately following at 10pm. Also, I struggled to keep my eyes open this past Sunday at 11pm, only to become aware that BET was airing a re-run of performances from the 2011 Evening of Stars (so, why wasn’t that made clear in the commercials and/or on their website?). Anywho, I’d like to know what movies you’d recommend for Black History month, and if you’ll be watching the Image Awards or BET Honors, so let me know. Lastly, I will leave you with a classic Soul Train clip featuring the first performance on the nationally syndicated show. Do you know who performed? Hint: she still looks and sounds amazing, and she had a few guys called Pips backing her up :).
Until next thought, Thomasena.
Soul Train, episode one (Tribune Entertainment/Don Cornelius Productions): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-i5wHVfEHU