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Reconstruction Period Research Forum



Donald Bogle, author of "Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies and Bucks: An Interpretative History of Blacks in American Films," says that many racial stereotypes got their first wide exposure in D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation." Among them:
The brute. The threatening black man is one of the most enduring fears in the white American psyche. A modern version: Denzel Washington in "Training Day."
The tragic mulatto. The Yankee senator who wants to crush the South in "Birth" has a bronze-skinned mistress who can't seem to stop fondling herself. This hypersexed, mixed-race femme has never gone away. Think of Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball."
The mammy. "Birth" includes a heavyset black servant who stays loyal to her masters, a role later immortalized by Hattie McDaniel in "Gone With the Wind." Bogle sees echoes in Whoopi Goldberg's character in "Ghost."


Turner Classic Movies chose 37 films for its series on race and Hollywood. It would liked to have shown one more, "Song of the South," a 1946 movie based on the Uncle Remus stories, but the studio has withdrawn it from exhibition. "Disney doesn't want to acknowledge it ever made that movie," said TCM programming executive Charlie Tabesh. The films in the series include:
Thursday: "Green Pastures" (1936)
May 11: "Imitation of Life" (1934)
May 11: "Show Boat" (1936)
May 16: "Gone With the Wind" (1939)
May 16: "Cabin in the Sky" (1943)
May 18: "Intruder in the Dust" (1949)
May 23: "A Patch of Blue" (1965)
May 25: "In the Heat of the Night" (1967)
May 25: "Shaft" (1971)
May 30: "Sounder" (1972)
May 30: "Devil in a Blue Dress" (1995)

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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