Movie Poster: Black Like Me

 I changed the color of my skin…now I know what it’s feels like to be BLACK!”
C’mon, you’ve got to admit you’re just dying to see the film now aren’t you? The film in question is the 1964 filmBlack Like Me based on the 1961 John Howard Griffin’s controversial best seller. I came across an article today marking the 50th anniversary when Griffin, a good intentioned liberal Texan who had done humanitarian relief work in Asia, began writing a series of articles chronicling his experiences the year before about what it was  like to be a black person in the South at the time. With the aid of skin altering drugs and a sunlamp (no doubt for touch ups) he darkened his skin and traveled throughout the South for three weeks posing a black man detailing  his experiences encountering various forms of racism. Three years later a low budget. independent made and released film based on the book starring James Whitmore was released.

At the time there was a huge fuss in the black media about the book and later film. (I still now even recall as amere babe even Ebony doing a huge multi page article about the film) No doubt many black people at the time though that if white people would see the movie and realize how mean they had been to us they would change their ways. Well people were pretty naive back then.
Though the film was shown occasionally on TV afterward for a few years and has been shown as well on Turner Classics Movies the film is now controlled by Griffin’s estate and they have held up any showings of the film for a while at least to my knowledge. Then again they’re probably embarrassed by the whole thing. I mean take a look at this still from the film.

Yeah I know. And a lot of people really took the film very seriously. It’s like an image from Birth of a Nation or an Al Jolson movie. Next time it’s on TCM I’ll be sure to let you know

On loan from the permanent collection @ Shadow & Act
Post a Comment