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
Search DAARAC's Archive

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Glory (1989)

"Glory" (1989) film directed by Edward Zwick about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the Union Army's earliest African-American regiments in the American Civil War. Kevin Jarre wrote the screenplay based on the books "Lay This Laurel" (1973) by Lincoln Kirstein and "One Gallant Rush" (1965) by Peter Burchard and the personal letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. The film features a fantastic cast, including Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Andre Braugher, and Jihmi Kennedy. Denzel won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

After the Academy nominated Morgan Freeman for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his abrasive character, Fast Black, in "Street Smart" (1987), Freeman's career reached another level. In 1989, Freeman not only appeared in "Glory," but also starred in "Lean on Me," "Johnny Handsom," and "Driving Miss Daisy." He earned another nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in "Driving Miss Daisy." Similarly, the same year the Academy nominated Freeman in '87, Denzel Washington also earned a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in "Cry Freedom." In addition, Washington appeared in several T.V. shows and films, including "The Mighty Quinn," released in 1989. 

For Andre Braugher, "Glory" was his first theatrical film after appearing in two "Kojak" T.V. movies. Afterward, he had an illustrious career, including winning two Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in "Homicide: Life on the Street," in 1998 and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie in "Theif," in 2006. Lastly, Jihmi Kennedy appeared in several T.V. shows and films before starring in "Glory." He starred in four films in 1989, with primarily minor roles.

All four actors represented different characters in the movie. They brilliantly perform their character portrayals in a film with a great story. However, since it's a historical movie, many aspects require additional research for deeper understanding. Nevertheless, it's beautifully shot and does a great job of putting you into the environment. I highly recommend the movie for viewing.

Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Kevin Jarre (screenplay), Lincoln Kirstein (book "Lay This Laurel"), Peter Burchard (book "One Gallant Rush"), Robert Gould Shaw (letters)

Starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman, Jihmi Kennedy, Andre Braugher, John Finn, Donovan Leitch Jr., JD Cullum, Alan North, Bob Gunton

Following the Battle of Antietam, Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is offered command of the United States' first all-African-American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. With junior officer Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes), Shaw puts together a solid and proud unit, including the escaped slave Trip (Denzel Washington) and the wise gravedigger John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman). At first, limited to menial manual tasks, the regiment fights to be placed in the heat of battle.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Polly (1989, TV Movie)

"Polly" (1989) is a made-for-television musical that aired on NBC's "Magical World of Disney." Disney adapted the movie from the 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter, "Pollyanna," which Disney originally made a version of the novel in 1960 under the same title. The 1989 version comprises a majority black cast, and Debbie Allen is responsible for the film's direction. Due to the immense popularity of "The Cosby Show" during the mid to late 80s, the actors saw remarkable success in roles outside of their norm. So naturally, Cosby kids was a rating boost for any network that featured them in TV movies or shows. But, this time, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Phylicia Rashad led an excellent cast of actors in one of the most underrated musicals.

This film isn't just any type of musical. It's brilliantly performed and well-made. All the leading actors and actresses get to sing and dance. Debbie Allen colorfully illuminates every scene with beauty and grace with her choreography, which the Emmys nominated her for "Outstanding Choreography." Included with Pulliam and Rashad are Dorian Harewood, Barbara Montgomery, T.K. Carter, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Brandon Quintin Adams, Larry Riley, and Brock Peters. Notable guest stars also include Butterfly McQueen ("Gone with the Wind") and Celeste Holm ("Oklahoma"). 

Joel McNeely is responsible for the soundtrack score, which Harold Wheeler ("The Wiz") also supervised. Debbie and her husband, Norm Nixon, composed one of the music numbers called "Stand Up." Some of the tracks are "Shine a Light" (sung by Dorian Harewood and Larry Riley), "Honey Ain't Got Nothin' on You" (Vanessa Bell Calloway), "Something More" (Phylicia Rashas), and "Sweet Little Angel Eyes" (Bandon Adams and TK Carter).

I recommend this movie. The music is excellent, and the attire is beautiful. The story is a cheerful one with many feel-good moments. The actors have experience in performing arts, and many came from Broadway. This film has all the essences of Broadway and then some. 

Director: Debbie Allen
Writers: William Blinn (teleplay), Eleanor H. Porter (novel "Pollyanna")

Starring Keshia Knight Pulliam, Phylicia Rashad, Dorian Harewood, Barbara Montgomery, T.K. Carter, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Brandon Quintin Adams, Ken Page, Larry Riley, Butterfly McQueen, Brock Peters, Celeste Holm, George Anthony Bell, Michael Peters, Vickilyn Reynolds Vickilyn Reynolds

Set in 1955, in times of racial segregation, a mythical all-black Alabama town called Harrington is owned by the non-sense Aunt Polly (Phylicia Rashad). She believes life is a serious matter and frowns upon any joyful noise. However, things change when Polly (Keshia Knight Pulliam) arrives as an orphan from Detroit. She is a ray of sunshine to a stoic Aunt and a town torn between their affliction between each other.