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Black Like ME [DVD] [1964] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]


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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Amazon.com: 38 reviews
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Role Reversal 16 Jun 2000
By "gsibbery" - Published on Amazon.com
This is the most powerful film with regards to the race problem in the Unites States that I have ever seen. A white man, doing research in sociology, turns himself black with the use of certain drugs, which allows him a glimpse into how "the other half" lived. Our protagonist gets a full dose of what it was like to be a black man in the middle years of the twentieth century. the attitudes of blacks as well as whites are examined throughout the film, and are quite ineteresting. (It's also a bit interesting to see "Grandpa Walton" playing a racist bigot!) A very important film that I would recommend to anyone, although it is not easy to watch. Anyone who gets through this film may very well have a darker opinion of humanity when it is over.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Dated But Still Packs a Punch 25 May 2004
By Bruce Kendall - Published on Amazon.com
For those of us of a certain generation, this was a seminal movie. It brought race relations to the fore in a way which Time Magazine articles or even newsreel footage of Civil Rights marchers being sprayed down by power hoses didn't.
The impact came, for me at least, from James Whitmore's understated, slow-burn performance. Nothing that dramatic happens to him in this movie. He's just shunted off incrementally, in one place or another, for no other reason than that he's passing himself off for black. It's really a Spencer Tracy acting turn, in a way. His transformation from weakling to adjudicator is akin to Tracy's in BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK.
The Bad guys are pretty much set up in a row. We also know who the good guy is. Hate to use the analogy, but things are presented in very black and white terms here. We know who the heroes and villains are. But the drama is in how it plays out. Whitmore learns lesson after painful lesson. The upshot is that his story and the film itself acts as a powerful exposé of the segregrationalist policies of the era. It made it a lot harder for the South to justify it's arcane drinking fountain, swimming pool, cafe-seating, bus-seating policies, in other words. One of the really important movies of the era, in other words, and one that should still be receiving kudos!
BEK
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Walk On The Other Side 22 Dec 2012
By Kert Conrad - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
After years of neglect, BLACK LIKE ME finally gets a good presentation with this new 2-disc DVD release, which features a beautiful restoration of the 1964 motion picture along with a documentary about the author of the book on which the film is based. The DVD offers the choice of the original 4x3 format or a 16x9 version, both of which look impressively crisp and clear.
As for the film itself, this is a case where one has to look beyond the finished product and think more in terms of the message of the story. Why? Well, as other reviewers have noted, there's just no escaping the fact that James Whitmore does not even remotely look like he could be taken for an African-American, despite any amount of black makeup. And if you're looking for powerhouse dramatic performances or an unforgettable music score, you're not going to find them here. Still, if you can look beyond its deficiencies, this film has some important points to make, and it does so in a very understated and effective manner.
BLACK LIKE ME is a quiet and thought-provoking exploration of the effects of racism in day-to-day existence rather than a shocking expose of racial hostilities. As such, there are no scenes of beatings, cross burnings or other overt acts of violence. Instead, it shows how bigotry even in its most subtle forms can deprive an individual of dignity and the simple ability to lead a normal life. Think for a moment what it would be like to have to act in a demeaning way, on a daily basis, just to avoid verbal or physical abuse, or to be denied the opportunity to even apply for a job simply because of your skin color. These are the things that the film addresses.
BLACK LIKE ME might easily be dismissed by present-day viewers as a dated oddity. However, as the saying goes, we need to know where we've been so we can figure out where we're going. If this movie doesn't always succeed as a work of cinematic storytelling, it nonetheless deserves high marks for tackling a difficult subject with uncommon honesty. It definitely belongs in any collection of films dealing with important social issues, right alongside A PATCH OF BLUE, THE WELL and LOST BOUNDARIES.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Thought Provoking 10 April 2003
By thesavvybamalady - Published on Amazon.com
I first read this book when I was still a teenager, and got to see the movie years later on those classic movie channels during Black History Month, and it is and was as thought provoking now as it was then. I don't know how this man wanted to do what some deem unthinkable, but he did, and he has my admiration. In the movie after revealing his true heritage, the man of the house wanted to know why would he do such a thing, while the younger man was real critical of him, and to top that, they were wondering why he would take advantage of his hospitality like that. Like a reverse racism thing if you would. But, I think that they were just bewildered by the whole thing. Please check out the book, and the movie if you can. They play it on Turner Classic Movies esp. during Black History Month.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
THE MOST COMPELLING ACCOUNT OF THE RACIAL DIVIDE EVER 26 Oct 2009
By B. C. Whitcomb - Published on Amazon.com
I guess it's true when they say you have to walk in the shoes of another before you can understand them. This truth becomes even more apparent in this compelling film. James Whitmore turns in a stellar performance as John Howard Griffin, a white man who became black. Travelling through the Southern states as a black man, he learned much about the state of the races. The film is not a feel good piece of filmmaking. Rather, it presents the state of race relations as they were, (are) without candy-coating, blemishes and all. The truth is that while there has been much progress in race relations, one wonders how much of this is really cosmetics. The given that the racial divide extends to not only race, but language and culture, I suspect that there has not been that much progress. As for how I am able to comment on this film, I don't own the DVD. I have an old VHS copy. It's somewhat trashed, but still watchable. One wonders why this landmark film has not found its way into the Criterion Collection and available to all, rather than as overpriced used copies on Amazon.
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