Monday, April 28, 2014

Movie – Sayonara (1957)

Sayonara is the oldest mainstream film I can think of that is openly supportive of interracial marriage.  It garnered a lot of notice from having big star Marlon Brando as its lead and from the 10 Academy Award nominations and 4 wins it received, including Best Supporting Actor for Red Buttons and Best Supporting Actress for Miyoshi Umeki.  The latter is the first Asian performer to ever win an Oscar (not counting 1956 winner Yul Brynner who was born in the Asian part of Russia and was ¼ Russian Mongol).  This film, along with a few with similar themes that followed, is credited with loosening up Americans’ attitudes towards the concept of marrying outside your own race.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Movie – Show Boat (1936)

There have been several movie versions of the musical Show Boat, based on the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein stage musical, which was itself based on the 1926 novel of the same name by Edna Ferber.  The most well known movie version is the 1951 color one.  The one that is considered the best, though, is the very hard to find 1936 one.  It is on AFI’s list of the 25 Best Musicals of all time.  The 1936 version has been suppressed for several decades, partially due to controversy over the later blacklisted Paul Robeson, who performs in it, and partially due to the studio not wanting their 1951 version being outshined.  Supposedly, the 1936 version has finally been issued on DVD in the U.S. in 2014, but when I click on the IMDB link to buy it all it shows me is copies of the 1951 version.  Regardless, it is well worth your time to track down the 1936 version.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Movie – The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)

Unlike my prior review – Broken Blossoms – The Bitter Tea of General Yen shows actual passion between an Asian man and a white woman.  It’s still pretty tame compared to today’s standards, but next to the very chaste relationship in Broken Blossoms it’s quite something.  In fact, it was negative reaction to the interracial relationship that was blamed for the failure of this movie.  While it was conservative zealousness that caused people to damn the film then, it’s liberal zealousness that sometimes causes people to damn it now.  Just like with Broken Blossoms the male lead in this film is played by a white man.  There is also a nightmare/sex dream where a heavy caricature of an Asian man is first seen before becoming normal (more on that in a bit).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Movie – Broken Blossoms (1919)

Director D.W. Griffith is nothing if not schizophrenic.  Just four years after making the epic The Birth of a Nation (about how the Ku Klux Klan supposedly saved America from uppity black people) he comes back with the small character study Broken Blossoms which features a very sympathetic portrayal of an Asian man and his relationship with a white girl.  Even more surprising is that this film was made right in the middle of the “Yellow Peril” scare in the U.S.  The studio wanted nothing to do with this movie.  Griffith bought the rights to it from them and Broken Blossoms became the very first film ever released by United Artists, the company Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks founded to give artists a way to get their movies released without having to bow to the powers at the big studios.  Despite what the studio thought would happen Broken Blossoms became a huge hit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Movies with Interracial Relationships

Young Boy with Coffee – “Excuse me, I happened to be passing, and I thought you might like some coffee.”
Little Girl – “Oh, that's very nice of you, thank you.”
Young Boy with Coffee – “Cream?”
Little Girl – “No, thank you, I take it black, like my men.”
                                                – Airplane! (1980)                   

If there’s one subject in most of movie history that pretty much guaranteed controversy it was having an interracial relationship in it, especially if it was black/white.  This category won’t be restricted just to those two races, though.  There will be various combinations among the films.

And by “relationships” I don’t mean buddy movies such as Lethal Weapon, Shanghai Noon, or the like.  No, I mean relationships where two people are romantically or sexually connected to each other (at least as far as it was allowed to go for the time period the film was made.)

Because there have been so many films like this in recent years, I am going to limit this category to those movies where the relationship is a sizable or key component to the film.  This means I will be excluding movies like The Royal Tenenbaums where it is an ensemble and there just happens to be an interracial couple among the characters.

In the interest of showing how things have changed over the years I will be posting reviews of my recommended films in chronological order – oldest to newest.  I've placed the years there to give you an idea of what the range will be.  As I review the films I will come back and add the links for them here. 

Monster's Ball (2001)
O (2001) - (posted July 28, 2012)

On to the reviews…

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Movie – Mud (2013)

Matthew McConaughey had a celebrated year in 2013 with a memorable cameo in The Wolf of Wall Street and an Oscar-winning turn in Dallas Buyers Club.  For my money, though, his best film of 2013 was Mud.  (Wolf was better, but it wasn’t his movie.)  In fact, Mud is one of my Top 10 films of 2013.  It’s from writer/director Jeff Nichols, who had previously done 2011’s Take Shelter, which garnered a number of good reviews.  I consider Mud to be a good step up from Take Shelter and I look forward to what Nichols may do in the future. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

TV and Book – Game of Thrones Season 3

The third season of Game of Thrones is based on the first two thirds of the novel A Storm of Swords – the third book in the ongoing series titled A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.  Please note that this review of the third TV season and book contains spoilers for the first two TV seasons and books.  If you have never seen this show and would like a spoiler-free overview of what it is about and why you might want to watch it, please read my review of the first season and book here.  If you've seen that, my review of the second season and book can be found here.