The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Sunday, July 16, 2023

The Old Settler (2001, TV Movie)

"The Old Settler" (2001) is a made-for-television drama aired on PBS. Debbie Allen directed the movie, and Shauneille Perry wrote the screenplay. The film is an adaptation of John Henry Redwood's 1998 play under the same title. Allen stars in a film with her sister Phylicia Rashad for the first time. They worked together previously in the films "Polly" and "Polly Comin' Home," but Allen only directed while Rashad starred in the film. Allen and Rashad's natural sisterly bond provided excellent chemistry for their characters, mainly because the film's premises involved the relationship between the two sisters. 

In the film, an 'old settler' means a woman approaching 40, unmarried, with no prospects. Elizabeth (Rashad) is the landlord of a young man from the South who came to Harlem searching for a beloved (Crystal Fox) that ran off. However, Husband (Bumper Robinson) begins to court Elizabeth, and the relationship between them evolves much to the disagreement of Elizabeth's sister Quilly (Allen).

Historically, PBS televised stageplays and films adapted from novels. "The Old Settler" is similar to some of the plays aired in the 1970s. A film between a mother and daughter called "Sty of the Blind Pig" (1974) has a familiar sentiment as "The Old Settler." Both plays examine the life positions of middle-aged black women who try to find love in their life before their window of opportunities declines further. The films are genuine in their attempts to convey their messages, and the actors do an excellent job capturing your attention.

"The Old Settler" is a masterclass in acting and storytelling. It's a worthy film to explore, with many layers to analyze. I recommend this movie for viewing.

Director: Debbie Allen
Writer: Shauneille Perry

Starring Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, Bumper Robinson, Crystal Fox, Bebe Drake, Ella Joyce, Paul Mooney, Randy J. Goodwin, Steven Smith, Michael Ralph, Steven Smith

Quilly (Allen) has separated from her husband and has moved in with her unwed sister Elizabeth (Rashad), an "old settler." Quilly is dismayed that her sister has rented a room in their apartment to a handsome young man named Husband Witherspoon (Bumper Robinson), who has traveled from South Carolina in search of his sweetheart Lou Bessie (Crystal Fox). Unable to fit into Lou's fast-paced lifestyle, he courts Elizabeth, who is much older, causing tension between the two sisters.