Michelle Buckley

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Friday, February 02, 2007

KC Celebration of Black Films

Shawn Edwards, a film critic for our local Fox affiliate, is a friend of mine. This month, he and several local organizations are hosting a CELEBRATION OF BLACK FILMS - DIME ON THE VINE. On each Sunday during the month of February, two black films will be shown in The Gem Theater, KC's historic black theater (and the site of my book launching party for my first book).

The cost of viewing the movies is 10 cents (that's what it cost to see films at the time The Gem was built). The films for the month include: (Feb 4) The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings, Piano Blues, (Feb 11) Carmen Jones, Love Jones, (Feb 18) Stormy Weather, Cabin in the Sky, (Feb 25) Watermelon Man and Bamboozled.

As part of the VIP reception/celebration I'm attending tonight, a special screening of the movie PRIDE (featuring Terrence Howard and Bernie Mack) will be shown. PRIDE is inspired by the true story of Jim Ellis, an African-American swim coach who resurrects an inner-city Philadelphia public pool in the 1970s and recruits troubled neighborhood teens to join his swim team. The actual Jim Ellis will be on hand following the movie for a Q&A session. (I can’t wait!!!) See this link for more about the film: PRIDE. (The movie PRIDE hits theaters March 23rd, so check your local listings!)

On Saturday at 2p, there will be a showing of a documentary that Shawn wrote and directed called 100 Best Black Films (Ever). It examines the history of Black Films with commentary from Hollywood's leading African American stars. My girl, the lovely Julee Jonez of KPRS-Hot 103 Jamz, provides the voice talent for the documentary. The documentary should help put Shawn's list (see below) in context and better explain his thoughts as to why certain films earned his special distinction.

Personally, I think that while there has been a fair amount of crap put out there for blacks' consumption, there is a fair amount of quality films that have been put out too. I don't envy Shawn trying to put those films in some kind of numeric order. This is the reason I want to be a screenwriter and author…to ensure that more quality work geared toward us is captured on film and in books.

Anyway…here’s Shawn’s list. What are your thoughts? If you had a time capsule and could only put 5 black films in it to be saved for all eternity – what would those films be?

Shawn Edwards' 100 Best Black Films (Ever)
(Film critic, WDAF, Kansas City)

1. "Do the Right Thing" (1989; directed by Spike Lee; with Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Spike Lee, Robin Harris)

2. "The Color Purple" (1985; Steven Spielberg; Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey)

3. "Claudine" (1974; John Berry; Diahann Carroll, James Earl Jones)

4. "Malcolm X" (1992; Spike Lee; Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett)

5. "Sounder" (1972; Martin Ritt; Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks)

6. "Carmen Jones" (1954; Otto Preminger; Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll)

7. "Super Fly" (1972; Gordon Parks Jr.; Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee)

8. "Cooley High" (1975; Michael Schultz; Glynn Thurman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris)

9. "Hoop Dreams" (1995; Steve James; William Gates, Arthur Agee)

10. "Coming to America" (1988; John Landis; Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones)

11. "Ray" (2005; Taylor Hackford; Jamie Foxx, Regina King)

12. "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" (1974; John Korty; Cicely Tyson)

13. "Bamboozled" (2000; Spike Lee; Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, Jada Pinkett Smith)

14. "Cotton Comes to Harlem" (1970; Ossie Davis; Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques)

15."Richard Pryor: Live in Concert" (1979; Jeff Margolis)

16. "Shaft" (1971; Gordon Parks; Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn)

17. "Dreamgirls" (2006; Bill Condon; Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson)

18. "Friday" (1995; F. Gary Gray; Ice Cube, Chris Tucker)

19. "Baby Boy" (2001; John Singleton; Tyrese Gibson, Taraji P. Henson, Snoop Dogg)

20. "A Raisin in the Sun" (1961; Daniel Petrie; Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee)

21. "The Five Heartbeats" (1991; Robert Townsend; Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon)

22. "Watermelon Man" (1970; Melvin Van Peebles; Godfrey Cambridge)

23. "City of God" (2002; Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund; Alexandre Rodrigues)

24. "Glory" (1989; Edward Zwick; Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher)

25. "Menace II Society" (1993; Allen and Albert Hughes; Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Jada Pinkett Smith)

26. "Tsotsi" (2005; Gavin Hood; Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto)

27. "The Emperor Jones" (1933; Dudley Murphy; Paul Robeson)

28. "Eve's Bayou" (1997; Kasi Lemmons; Samuel L. Jackson, Debbi Morgan, Vondie Curtis-Hall)

29. "Lilies of the Field" (1963; Ralph Nelson; Sidney Poitier)

30. "Soul Food" (1997; George Tillman Jr.; Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Mekhi Phifer)

31. "Black Caesar" (1973; Larry Cohen; Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry)

32. "Boyz N the Hood" (1991; John Singleton; Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube)

33. "She's Gotta Have It" (1986; Spike Lee; Tracy Camilla Johns, Spike Lee, Tommy Redmond Hicks)

34. "Island in the Sun" (1957; Robert Rossen; Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge)

35. "In the Heat of the Night" (1967; Norman Jewison; Sidney Poitier)

36. "Lady Sings the Blues" (1972; Sidney J. Furie; Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor)

37. "When We Were Kings" (1996; Leon Gast; Muhammad Ali, George Foreman)

38. "Love & Basketball" (2000; Gina Prince-Bythewood; Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan)

39. "What's Love Got to Do With It" (1993; Brian Gibson; Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne)

40. "The Mack" (1973; Michael Campus; Max Julien, Don Gordon, Richard Pryor)

41. "To Sleep With Anger" (1990; Charles Burnett; Danny Glover, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Mary Alice)

42. "The Exile" (1931; Oscar Micheaux; Eunice Brooks, Stanley Morrell)

43. "Set It Off" (1997; F. Gary Gray; Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox)

44. "Sweet Sweetback …" (1971; Melvin Van Peebles; Melvin Van Peebles, Mario Van Peebles)

45. "Waiting to Exhale" (1995; Forest Whitaker; Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine)

46. "Nothing But a Man" (1964; Michael Roemer; Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln)

47. "Blade" (1998; Stephen Norrington; Wesley Snipes, N'Bushe Wright)

48. "Devil in a Blue Dress" (1995; Carl Franklin; Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle)

49. "Sonkofa" (1993; Haile Gerima; Kofi Ghanaba)

50. "Love Jones" (1997; Theodore Witcher; Nia Long, Lorenz Tate, Isaiah Washington)

51. "A Rage in Harlem" (1991; Bill Duke; Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines)

52. "A Soldier's Story" (1984; Norman Jewison; Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Denzel Washington)

53. "Dead Presidents" (1995; Albert and Allen Hughes; Larenz Tate, Keith David, Chris Tucker)

54. "Hollywood Shuffle" (1987; Robert Townsend; Robert Townsend, Anne-Marie Johnson, Keenen Ivory Wayans)

55. "Car Wash" (1976; Michael Schultz; Richard Pryor, Bill Duke, Franklin Ajaye)

56. "The Learning Tree" (1969; Gordon Parks; Kyle Johnson, Alex Clarke, Estelle Evans)

57. "Stormy Weather" (1943; Andrew L. Stone; Bill Robinson, Lena Horne)

58. "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" (1988; Keenen Ivory Wayans; Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jim Brown, Bernie Casey)

59. "Cabin in the Sky" (1943; Vincente Minnelli; Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong)

60. "Wattstax" (1973; Mel Stuart; Isaac Hayes, Richard Pryor, Albert King)

61. "Rosewood" (1997; John Singleton; Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Esther Rolle)

62. "To Sir, With Love" (1967; James Clavell; Sidney Poitier)

63. "New Jack City" (1991; Mario Van Peebles: Wesley Snipes, Ice-T)

64. "House Party" (1990; Reginald Hudlin; Christopher Reid, Christopher Martin, Robin Harris)

65. "The Green Pastures" (1936; Marc Connelly and William Keighley; Eddie "Rochester " Anderson, Rex Ingram)

66. "Hotel Rwanda" (2004; Terry George; Don Cheadle, Sophie Okenedo)

67. "Home of the Brave" (1949; Mark Robson; James Edwards)

68. "Lean on Me" (1989; John G. Avildsen; Morgan Freeman, Robert Guillaume)

69. "Hallelujah!" (1929; King Vidor; Daniel L. Haynes, Nina Mae McKinney)

70. "The River Niger" (1976; Krishna Shah; Cicley Tyson, James Earl Jones, Lou Gossett Jr.)

71. "Purple Rain" (1984; Albert Magnoli; Prince, Morris Day, Apollonia Kotero)

72. "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" (1999; Martha Coolidge; Halle Berry)

73. "Krush Groove" (1985; Michael Schultz; Blair Underwood, Sheila E.)

74. "Coffy" (1973; Jack Hill; Pam Grier)

75. "Sugar Cane Alley" (1983; Euzhan Palcy; Garry Cadenat)

76. "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Parts" (2006; Spike Lee; Ray Nagin, Terence Blanchard, Harry Belafonte)

77. "Cornbread, Earl and Me" (1975; Joe Manduke; Jamal Wilkes, Moses Gunn, Laurence Fishburne)

78. "Juice" (1992; Ernest R. Dickerson; Tupac Shakur, Omar Epps, Queen Latifah)

79. "Uptown Saturday Night" (1974; Sidney Poitier; Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte)

80. "Jungle Fever" (1991; Spike Lee; Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee)

81. "Killer of Sheep" (1977; Charles Burnett; Henry G. Sanders)

82. "The Cool World" (1963; Shirley Clarke; Rony Clayton)

83. "Buck and the Preacher" (1972; Sidney Poitier; Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte)

84. "Putney Swope" (1969; Robert Downey Sr.; Arnold Johnson)

85. "Paris is Burning" (1991; Jennie Livingston; Paris Dupree)

86. "The Harder They Come" (1973; Perry Henzell; Jimmy Cliff)

87. "Daughters of the Dust" (1991; Julie Dash; Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers)

88. "The Spook Who Sat by the Door" (1973; Ivan Dixon; Lawrence Cook)

89. "CSA: The Confederate States of America" (2004; Kevin Willmott; William Willmott)

90. "Fresh" (1994; Boaz Yakin; Sean Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson)

91. "Miracle in Harlem" (1948; Jack Kemp: Stepin Fetchit, Sheila Guyse)

92. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967; Stanley Kramer; Sidney Poitier, Beah Richards)

93. "Hustle & Flow" (2005; Craig Brewer; Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Anderson)

94. "Cry Freedom" (1987; Richard Attenborough; Denzel Washington)

95. "Akeelah and the Bee" (2006; Doug Atchison; Keke Palmer, Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett)

96. "Wild Style" (1982; Charlie Ahearn; Fab Five Freddy, Grandmaster Flash)

97. "Aaron Loves Angela" (1975; Gordon Parks Jr.; Kevin Hooks, Irene Cara)

98. "Sparkle" (1976; Sam O'Steen; Phillip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara, Lonette McKee )

99. "Undercover Brother" (2002; Malcolm D. Lee; Eddie Griffin, Dave Chappelle, Billy Dee Williams)

100. "Imitation of Life" (1959; Douglas Sirk; Mahalia Jackson)
Blogger Gwyneth Bolton said...

I could only narrow it down to ten and that was hard! What's on your list?
Here's my ten:

- "Claudine"
- "Daughters of the Dust"
- "Mahagony"
- "Eve's Bayou"
- "Love & Basketball"
- "The Five Heartbeats"
- "Set It Off"
- "Love Jones"
- "Coffy" (1973; Jack Hill; Pam Grier)


10:42 PM, February 02, 2007  
Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

Wow ... now that's a list of great movies ... There are more than a few I haven't seen, so I've made some additions to my Netflix queue .. thanks for posting it!

5:20 AM, February 03, 2007  
Blogger Michelle said...

Here were some responses from an online book club I belong to:

1. Imitation of Life - It is what it is

2. Uptown Saturday Night or Let's Do It Again - Timeless classics

3. Kingdom Come - LL is fine, Jada's out of her mine, and "Now Jesus Got the Knob" still cracks me up!

4. Feast of all Saints - This movie really opened my eyes to the plight of Louisiana slaves

5. The Best Man - Fine men er'where & the scene w/sista girl in her wedding gown shooting a gun: priceless

6. Love Jones - Because I love poetry and love is poetic

7. Crooklyn - If for no other reason than the scene w/Sweetie popping out of the couch

8. Akeelah and the Bee - It inspires our children and revives the child in us

9. School Daze - Because it reminds me of the carefree days of being Young, Black, and Gifted

10. Roots - It opened my eyes as a child to the truth of my existence and those who came before


1. Imitation of Life (Original and Remake)
2. Uptown Saturday Night
3. Claudine
4. School Daze
5. Crash


1. "Imitation of Life"
2. "The Color Purple"
3. "Love and Basketball"
4. "Malcom X"
5. "Glory"


1. "Crash"
2. "Brown Sugar"
3. "Remember the Titans"
4. "The Wood"
5. "The Best Man"
6. "Jason's Lyric"
7. "Ali"
8. "The Hurricane"
9. "Madea's Family Reunion"
10. "Diary of a Mad Black Woman"
11. "School Daze"
12. "Freedom Song"
13. "The Preacher's Wife"
14. "John Q"
15. "When We Were Colored"
16. "Thomasine and Bushrod"
17. "Cleopatra Jones"
18. "Foxy Brown"
19. "Mandingo"
20. "The Piano Lesson"
21. "Let's Do It Again"
22. "Holiday Heart"
23. "Down in the Delta"
24. "A Lesson Before Dying"
25. "Five on the Black Hand Side"

2:27 PM, February 05, 2007  
Blogger Michelle said...

Gwyneth -- you were right. This was extremely hard. I couldn't do just five either. Heck, I couldn't do just 10. See my list below with reasons why. My list is 15 disguised as 10. :-)

Who knows, maybe one day the film versions of our books may very well be on a list like this *smile*

(In no particular order)

Roots - Instilled pride in where we came from as a people and started black geneology trend.

Love Jones/Jason's Lyrics - Opened door for other contemporary/modern black love stories I could relate to.

Color Purple/The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman - Testament to the strength of black womens' human spirit. Ceelie and Jane are the ultimate Bulletproof Souls.

Malcolm X, Glory, A Soldier's Story - Denzel. Denzel. Denzel. Enuff said.

Eyes on the Prize/When The Levees Broke/Four Little Girls - Unflinching look at race during critical times in US history.

Cooley High - Precursor to contemporary black coming of age tales/hood movies like Juice, Boyz in the Hood, The Wood, The Best Man, Fridays, etc.

Carmen Jones - 1st color major motion picture to feature all-black cast and a true Black D-I-V-A in all her Technicolor bad-ass glory.

A Raisin the Sun - Movie version of the 1st show produced on Broadway by a black woman.

Shaft - Portrayal of a modern-day black supercop. I had to give a shout out to director Gordon Parks, a fellow Kansan. (May he RIP).

3:34 PM, February 05, 2007  
Blogger Gwyneth Bolton said...

Umm... yeah... you cheating for real with that list. It's more like a list of 20. LOL. But it's all good stuff. Now you've got me wishing I had a free minute to just sit and watch movies, have my own marathon.


4:08 PM, February 05, 2007  
Blogger Michelle said...

@ Gwyneth, I know girl, when I walked out of the documentary this weekend, it made me so proud and had me wanting to watch all the black classics. Sounds like the perfect activity for a rainy day --or a snowy weekend which we're having a lot of here in KC!

4:20 PM, February 05, 2007  
Blogger Michelle said...

Another Top 10 movie list from one of my online reading groups...

1. Lady Sings the Blues
2. Color Purple
3. Mahogany
4. Do the Right Thing
5. Sparkle
6. Claudine
7. Boyz N the Hood
8. Juice
9. Higher Learning
10. What's Love got to do with it

3:33 PM, February 07, 2007  
Blogger Kimber An said...

The power of these films is in their passion. For that reason, I just couldn't watch a bunch of them. I tried. Especially 'The Color Purple.' It's just that I'm so easily affected that I have nightmares. I loved 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?' An amazing film for it's time. But, really, it was 'Sounder' I cried through. Cried bucketfuls.

8:09 AM, February 10, 2007  
Blogger Rose said...

these are some of my favorites,
"Madea's Family Reunion"
"Diary of a Mad Black Woman"
"School Daze"
"The Preacher's Wife"
"John Q"
"imitation of Life

1:26 AM, February 11, 2007  

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