February 14, 2003 |
As the first African American feature filmmaker, Oscar Micheaux had no distribution machinery in place for his work. So he would often drive from town to town to present his latest film to black audiences who were tired of seeing themselves portrayed by white filmmakers as lazy, shiftless, cowardly -- if they were portrayed at all. African American men took the brunt of these negative stereotypes, often being depicted in such films as D.W.
September 11, 2009 |
Oscar Micheaux was not only the first African American to make a feature film -- 1919's silent "The Homesteader" -- he was also the first to make a sound feature film -- 1931's "The Exile." But whether the film had subtitles or spoken words, Micheaux always had bigger things in mind. "He was very much a moralist," Jan-Christopher Horak, head of UCLA Film and Television Archive, says of the pioneering director. "He certainly had some unique ideas about uplifting the race. For the black middle class at that time period that was the goal -- uplifting the race, getting them more political and social power."
May 17, 1986 |
Oscar Micheaux is hardly a familiar name in the annals of film history, but he may soon have his own star on Hollywood Boulevard. The massive film encyclopedias used by film schools and journalists rarely mention him. There is just one clipping on the director in The Times' library. Even some of the most serious students of film have never heard of him.
August 21, 1986 |
Lorenzo Tucker, American cinema's best-known black leading man in an era when blacks were forced to produce their own films that were then shown to segregated audiences, has died. The actor many called "The Black Valentino" for his dashing good looks and star qualities was 79 and died Tuesday night at his home in Hollywood. His biographer, Richard Grupenhoff, said he had been suffering from cancer.
June 2, 2007 |
"BLACK show business was the most delicious layer cake white America never tasted," film biographer Patrick McGilligan remarks in "Oscar Micheaux: The Great and Only." As this detailed work makes clear, Micheaux is one of the tartest layers. Only 15 of more than 40 feature films he made survive. Considering that 90% of silent cinema is lost, along with many pre-1950 talkies, it's a miracle that anything remains of this work from the ragged margins of early small-time independent film production.
April 26, 1990 |
When Bette Davis became the first woman to receive the American Film Institute's life achievement award in 1977, she ended her heartfelt acceptance speech saying, "As I say good night, I would like to quote my favorite line from all of the pictures I have made: 'Ah'd love to kiss ya but ah just washed mah hair!' " The first of the famous Davis lines occurred in "Cabin in the Cotton" (1932), which screens today at 5:30 p.m.