Celebrating Black Film Artists

In honor of Juneteenth, I decided to collect links to some of the articles I’ve written where I discuss the work of black film artists in one celebratory post. I hope it will encourage readers to seek out work by black directors, actors and writers that I’ve singled out and discover more of their incredible output. THE BRUTAL TRUTH: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave … Continue reading Celebrating Black Film Artists

Fighting Prejudice with Sidney Poitier

2013 has quietly developed into a groundbreaking year for black actors and directors. Steve McQueen’s 12 YEARS A SLAVE starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ryan Coogler’s FRUITVALE STATION starring Michael B. Jordan and Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER starring Forest Whitaker are all possible Oscar contenders for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor while Idris Elba’s performance in MANDELA: A LONG WALK TO FREEDOM has also garnered considerable critical attention … Continue reading Fighting Prejudice with Sidney Poitier

Bigotry & Bloodshed: SAPPHIRE (1959)

A beautiful young woman named Sapphire (Yvonne Buckingham) has been murdered. Her bloodied corpse was found in London’s Hampstead Heath park. A seasoned detective (Nigel Patrick) and his young partner (Michael Craig) are called on to investigate the case but as they try to piece together the puzzle of this post-war whodunit the mystery only deepens. Behind her tweed skirts and pale complexion, Sapphire was … Continue reading Bigotry & Bloodshed: SAPPHIRE (1959)

THE BRUTAL TRUTH: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013)

On Sunday many will be glued to their television sets watching the annual Oscar ceremony unfold. At this time of year I tend to contemplate all the new releases I’ve seen in the past 12 months and linger over the films that have captured my imagination, awed me, inspired me, or just made me think about old ideas and tired truths in new ways. When … Continue reading THE BRUTAL TRUTH: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Ralph Nelson’s Duel at Diablo (1966)

As soon as the credits start to roll in Ralph Nelson’s DUEL AT DIABLO (1966) you know you’re in for something very different. A knife suddenly appears to cut through the screen and immediately starts slashing apart the United Artists logo. This stunning gesture told audiences at the time that they were about to watch a very violent film but also a film that was going … Continue reading Ralph Nelson’s Duel at Diablo (1966)


Tomorrow night TCM Underground will be airing the surprisingly surreal and smart blaxploitation comedy, DARKTOWN STRUTTERS (1975). I hesitate to tag DARKTOWN STRUTTERS with a simplistic label like “blaxploitation” because it’s really a cult movie that deserves a category of its own. The film manages to combine just about every popular movie genre imaginable including classic westerns and musicals, biker films and revenge fantasies as well as science fiction … Continue reading TALKING WITH TRINA: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRINA PARKS


In the late 1950s Melvin Van Peebles went to Hollywood after completing a number of short films. He had aspirations of becoming a director’s assistant but an agent quickly squelched his ambition after telling him, “If you can tap dance, I might find you some work. But that is about all.” When he couldn’t find work as a director, Van Peebles attempted to sell one … Continue reading MELVIN VAN PEEBLES: THE STORY OF A THREE-DAY PASS (1967)


“Something mighty there is inside a man that takes him from being the youngest of 15 children raised in Kansas poverty, something that lets him clear the cruel hurdles implanted by a racist society, something that permits not merely survival but mastery of all that he embraced. A poet, and a pianist, a classical music composer, and one very at home with the blues, which … Continue reading GORDON PARKS: FILMMAKER, PHOTOGRAPHER & RENAISSANCE MAN

Three Reasons to Spend Time with Cleopatra Jones

Decades before Wonder Woman made her feature film debut and the all-female Dora Milaje fighting force was introduced to movie audiences in BLACK PANTHER (2018), Tamara Dobson was winning hearts and kicking-ass with her powerful portrayal of Cleopatra Jones. Released by Warner Bros. in 1973, CLEOPATRA JONES was the studio’s big-budget response to a slew of popular black-led films dominating the box office (helmed by … Continue reading Three Reasons to Spend Time with Cleopatra Jones

Mahogany On DVD!

My favorite Diana Ross film is coming to DVD on May 1st and I’m really looking forward to it! Mahogany (1975) is classic seventies-style camp that features some of the decade’s most awe inspiring fashions and great over-the-top performances. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing Mahogany for yourself, you’re in for a real treat and for its long time fans, all I can … Continue reading Mahogany On DVD!