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New York : HarperCollins, c1994.

Blackface Overview

In this bold new work, Nelson George turns a lifetime of movie-watching and an unexpected career in moviemaking into a book that looks at the African-American screen image from both a historical and a personal viewpoint. Blackface blends stories and anecdotes about the actual experiences of going to, being in, and making movies today with the sharply edged cultural criticism that has made George one of this country's most widely read and respected critics. As always, George explores new territory. His themes include the impact of movies of all kinds on the youngest African-Americans, starting with his own memories as a seven-year-old watching Zulu and Planet of the Apes, and he casts an eye in particular on the special messages communicated to kids about black roles and role models from Sidney Poitier to Spike Lee. He takes a new look at the heyday of blaxploitation and the genius of Richard Pryor, describes the early days of the black indies, and raises questions about the kinds of roles black stars and executives are being asked to play in Hollywood today. Running through the entire book is the story of his own education in the business of creating images. George was one of Spike Lee's early investors, and has been on the scene throughout the great surge of black film, as the Hudlin brothers, John Singleton, Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and others moved from low-budget independent productions to major Hollywood releases. This is Nelson George's most personal book, written from his multiple vantages as critic, filmgoer, screenwriter, and, most recently, film producer. It completes his trilogy on black popular culture, moving from music and sports to the movies. It is also a movie memoir that documents how a generation that enjoyed the opportunities created by the civil rights movement decided to manifest their ambitions. B-boys provided the popular image of nineties African-American youth, but it was a well-educated group of buppies, baps, and bohos who made t

Blackface Table Of Content

Pt. 1 Watching Movies: 1963-1969 1
A Theater in Brownsville 9
Acting Cool 13
Sidney & Me 17
The White Plague 26
Rookie Critic 33
Richard & Me 39
The Black Filmmaker Foundation 46
Pt. 2 Making Movies: 1970-1986 49
Fort Greene Dreams 76
Film Nerds Versus Cool Bizzers 86
Pt. 3 Low-Budget Deals: 1987-1990 91
One Party=Three Pictures 100
Pt. 4 B-Boys, Buppies & the Odd Boho: 1991 107
Pt. 5 CB4: 1992-1993 127
The Writing and the Deal 136
Preproduction 151
The Shoot 179
Postproduction and the Sell 182
Photos in London 194
Pt. 6 Twenty-First-Century Black: 1994 197
Acknowledgments 211
About the Author 213

Blackface Editorial Reviews

Benjamin Segedin

Music critic, novelist, and filmmaker George offers a personal survey of African Americans' image on the silver screen. Among his early film-going experiences, he recalls admiring the poise of Sean Connery as 007; "cool wasn't limited to black men," he thought. Watching "Planet of the Apes", he cheered for the apes, and he was in awe of the regal Sidney Poitier. Yet, he points out, blacks remained underrepresented in films. The 1970s introduced blaxploitation, most notably Melvin Van Peebles' unrepentantly angry "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song", the success of which made studios aware of a large African American audience. In the mid-1980s, George met young independent filmmaker Spike Lee and invested a few thousand dollars he'd earned from a Michael Jackson bio in Lee's groundbreaker, "She's Gotta Have It". Around this time George himself got into the biz and eventually coproduced the box-office bomb "CB4". By his admission, "more a memoir than a critique," George's account is filled with keen observations and sharp analyses of the development of black cinema. But the part about making "CB4" is far too long.

Readers' Reviews


Book Info

  • Book Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13: 9780060171209
  • ISBN-10: 0060171200
  • Edition: 1
  • Number of Pages: 224
  • Dimensions: 6.49 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 0.93 (d)
  • Approx Price: $1.99
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