A welcome break from CNN, it's Lee Tracy day on TCM's Summer Under the Stars. #TracyTCM
You know I how I feel about LT. Or maybe not 'cause back in the day, far pre-dating this blog, it was so hard to see his pictures. But I lived for a Film Forum screening of Blessed Event (1932) from maestro Roy Del Ruth. Despite his ubiquity in pre-code 30's comedy and despite the habit of the genre -- at least thus far -- I've never seen LT go into blackface which is just one of his many charms.
I can't list them all now - gots to pack but here is a link to a True Tracy Girl extolling his virtues in Bright Lights Film Journal:
His voice may be harsh and penetrating, but it's gloriously expressive: there's the triumphant cackle that goes up a full octave ("ha-HAH!"), the endearing cracks in the upper registers during moments of real or pretended passion, and the little throaty, crooning sound he makes as he moves in to kiss his leading lady. His zest and dynamism are inexhaustible, his body lunging and skidding, his hands dancing with exasperation and glee.
Among the more quietly galling aspects of Fruitvale Station is the pervasive sense that, shorn of its tragic narrative bookends, it would still make a fine, and all too rare, slice of black-focused, low-key drama in its own right. The keen observation and laidback aesthetic of its opening hour recall Charles Burnett’s wry My Brother’s Wedding (1983).
Respectfully considering the events unfolding in Ferguson, MO, in response to the shooting of Michael Brown (as well as the investigation of the death of Eric Garner in New York) I'm posting what I feel is an exceptionally sensitive review of Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station (2013) written by Ashley Clark. Back and forth over cinema might seem unimportant in comparison to the graphic realities of death, grief, injustice and upheaval unfolding on TV and via cellphone imagery. But I was reminded by the happenstance of reading the article (with CNN talking autopsies in the background) about the difficulty with, resistance to, or refusal of identification by white audiences with black protagonist in films--whether conscious or unconscious--which James Baldwin addresses in "The Devil Finds Work".
I guess what I'm thinking rather awkwardly, is that if white viewers, readers, and consumers of stories were compelled to participate in the activity of suspension of disbelief in order to identify with black stories and characters-- projecting themselves freely in works of popular culture by artists and producers of color, then wouldn't it follow that white people would by able to imagine and regard "the Black" as Baldwin puts it, as fully human in real life? To regard the Other instead as young guys--teenagers--kids from around the neighborhood, a brother, daughter or a sister or a son.
I mean it's a whole longer project for me and it's always been my project, of course whether I call it representation or inclusion or whatever. I'm never very explicit here or on FB because I use these platforms primarily to entertain. But I watch "white" movies all the time...lots of black people do--there are not huge options (a problem suggested in the review) right—? And so, the ability and the pleasure of projecting oneself into stories or characters isn't a really an issue. We just do it--so what is the problem?
“The root of the white man’s hatred [for black men] is terror, a bottomless and nameless terror, which focuses on the black, surfacing, and concentrating on this dread figure, an entity which lives only in his mind.”
I wish this trailer was more reflective of the material between the bookends...