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Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood Paperback – 31 Jan 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 411 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; annotated edition edition (31 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345454197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345454195
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 20.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,027,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By seacruise on 5 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
Absolutely loved this book! It brings to life a part of Hollywood history too often ignored. Of course I knew of Dorothy Dandridge and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, but there were so many other Black actors and actresses I'd never heard of before, and it was a pleasure to hear the stories of their struggles and triumphs in an all too bigoted era (20's to 50's). Having read other books by Donald Bogle, I look forward to his next (if any)one. He's always informative, humourous and seems to have a real affection for his subject.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Great book. Fills in the blanks for me regarding Black Hollywood heritage 21 Dec. 2006
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'm a black woman with a lifelong fascination with Hollywood, but who had next to no knowledge about the contributions of African-Americans to the field. During the early 90s, I had taken university level film courses, and I even earned a communications degree, but never once during that time did any of my profs ever discuss the contributions of Black people to the motion picture industry...except for Spike Lee and even at that time he was blown off by some as an "upstart."

Well, thank heavens for Donald Bogle for partially "completing my education" in this subject with this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams. I learned a lot that I hadn't known before, and had many urban legends and myths dispelled in the process.

For example, all my life I've had immediate knee jerk reactions to the movies Birth Of A Nation, Gone With The Wind and Imitation Of Life because of negative reations from my mother and other people. They would just say "it's demeaning" but never go into the reasons why they felt that way...they'd just change the subject.

While I will probably never warm to any of those three flicks, at least Mr. Bogle's book has helped me to understand why none of those movies or black actors in them can be dismissed out of hand, and how each motion picture in its own way spurred black people to get out there and find their own voice in Hollywood.

It has certainly inspired me to get out there, learn more, find and watch those "race" movies. I've discovered my local library has a lot of them both silent and "talkies", and quite a few are available for purchase online. In the past few weeks, I've watched two Oscar Micheaux movies, and I finally saw St Louis Blues (1929) in its entirety with Bessie Smith. I also discovered the "soundies" from the 1940s, those were the percursers to MTV...

Beause of Mr. Bogle's book, I am making plans to further my self-education on Black Hollywood history by collecting these films, visiting the graves of several black Hollywood pioneers when I visit Los Angeles next spring...and I will also go see and photograph their stars on the Walk of Fame, too. My mission? To make sure their contributions are NEVER forgotten, nor blown off by uninformed snarks who don't remember anything prior to the 1980s 'hip-hop' culture. Why is this so important? Because when you think of it, if there were no Birth Of A Nation, there may not have been an Oscar Micheaux...and perhaps no Spike Lee! If there was no "Gone With The Wind", then maybe we'd still be waiting for a black woman to win an Oscar...or not...one can never tell.

The only real complaint I have about the book? I wish there had been more pictures included! Otherwise, I think it is a real winner overall...and I recommend it for any person of color who is a serious student of theatre or film.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
It Will Change The Way You View Hollywood Film 24 July 2005
By Kevin Killian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I feel like I had never really seen a Hollywood picture before, now that I have read Donald Bogle's marvelous study of black life in Hollywood on and off screen. The other day for example I saw a inconsequential Fox comedy of the 1950s written by Nunnally Johnson, Oh Men, Oh Women, and in it a spoiled white heiress played by Barbara Rush refuses to exit a New York cab until the driver finds her the correct change. For the moment,the focus of the film is on the hassled driver, who has to contend with Miss Rush's airs, and also with the honks and screams of a dzoen other cabs jammed up behind him. Finally he lets her out for free and he absorbs the cost of his mistake. I didn't recognize the actor who played (briefly) the cabbie, then I waited for the credits. It was Joel Fluellen. A name which would have meant nothing to me, if I hadn't just finished reading Bogle. Joel Fluellen! The forgotten man of the movies dead, alas, too soon, and way before he could reveal his true sexuality.

This performance, brief as it was, is totally calibrated and brings an energy into a movie which sadly needs some! In a way this scene might be an allegory for Bogle's thesis, which is that, even if they were given insulting little to do, African American actors did it stunningly well and the shame of it is how very few of them managed to catch a break all the way to stardom. A few of them did: Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier. Because the book basically breaks off circa 1960, we don't get to hear later success stories such as Will Smith or Denzel Washington. This book is all about forebears.

A few nights later I watched a picture of an earlier vintage, CRASH DIVE with Tyrone Power. Oddly for its time, the movie gives a fair amount of screen time to a black actor calkled Ben Carter. If you read BBBD, you will find out Carter's whole story, the way he parlayed his limited experience as a theatrical agent into representing some of Hollywood's biggest black names--and often enough stealing their parts from them, because he'd nab the script and secure the part first if he thought it worth his time!

If you've got one film book to read this year make it Donald Bogle. You'll find it an amazing intervention into a quickly disappearing history.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"Excellent research book" 20 Mar. 2006
By jla - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found this book excellent in its writing style and information. I finished it in 5 days and use it often to research on black hollywood. I loved it!!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Informative and Quite Interesting 4 April 2005
By thesavvybamalady - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have finished reading a copy of Mr Bogle's latest book, and as always, I find it entertaining yet very interesting; For years, we have gotten via piecemeal, the efforts that African Americans have made in the cinema; This book brings it all together as well as telling us about L.A.'s famous Central Avenue, the various prominent black Los Angelenos such as architect Paul Williams, Dr John Sommerville, who built the hotel that eventually became the Dunbar; The only thing with this book is that the fifties spoke more about Nat King Cole, who although had a home in a predominately white neighborhood which was noteworthy for it's time, overshadowed it; despite it, I found it very informative of various people who worked in the industry including Madame Sul Te Wan, Noble Johnson, Stephin Fetchit, Eddie Anderson, Hattie McDaniel, Louise Beavers etc to name a very few; Please come and learn more;
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Most excellent 13 Sept. 2005
By Plutarch XL - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Donald Bogle has put together a fascinating read. This is the Black Hollywood you didn't know. If you have any interest in this area, you know a few things in this book, but Bogle has spent years researching these people -- and what people! Stepin Fetchit! Madame Sul-Te-Wan! Hattie McDaniel! Sunshine Sammy (Ernest Morrison)! Bojangles Robinson! Ethel Waters! on and on and well into more recent years too. The real juice, though, is all the info on the early years and these very special folks who made things happen -- often beautifully. A very special collection of stories and histories, respectfully written. Most excellent.
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