Representative Types of Negro

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Johnny Hot-Feet.

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 Johnny Rags.

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Johnny Tiger.

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Horace Big Cigar.

What all this is, is an announcement that my new article is up at BritMovie.com, in which we examine the good intentions and muddled attitudes in Basil Dearden’s 1959 racial drama SAPPHIRE, a well-intentioned liberal flick that’s most interesting when it stumbles.

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12 Responses to “Representative Types of Negro”

  1. Sapphire was a considerbale hit here in the states. Black people in Great Britain proved quite a sight for U.S. audiences both black and white. Of course it’s all fairly naive. The real story was to come a few years later via the Profumo scandal and Christine’s dangerous balck boyfriend Johnny.

    In filmracial intermingling gets truly sophsiticaled treatment via the ever-estimable Stephen Frears and My Beautiful Laundrette, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and Dirty Pretty Things.

  2. The movie Scandal cast Roland Gift as Johnny but never managed to make his significance clear. A missed opportunity. A map of all the film business people connected to the scandal, from Valerie Hobson (Mrs Profumo) to Anthony Asquith (the man in the mask, allegedly) could be quite interesting. Mandy Rice-Davies, catapulted to fame by the scandal, enjoyed an occasional acting career in the following decades.

    Dearden’s most successful social issues film is certainly Victim, which helped change Britain’s laws on homosexuality.

  3. Ah, I remember the excitement when absolute Beginners came out here. But the public didn’t like the look of it even before it opened.

    I enjoyed it at the time, but now I’d say, looking at that sequence: beautiful longshots and flowing moves, but the cutting wrecks it. All the “comedy” vignettes interrupt the song and destroy the flow, and you can’t actually follow them. A sequence that really bites off more than it can chew. It’s as if they choreographed it for longshot, with everything happening at the same time, and then couldn’t find a way to present that clearly onscreen.

  4. Nice song though! And Ray has a lovely presence.

  5. In the 60’s The Kinks were THE group. Far more than the Beatles or the Stones in certain circles. It’s not for nothing that Edie Sedwick and Gerard Malanga are frugging away to “Tired of Waiting” in Vinyl (1965) — Andy Warhol and Ronnie Tavel’s adaptation of “A Clockwork Orange.”

  6. A burst of Village Green Preservation Society can be heard in Hot Fuzz, and there are numerous other uses, but I don’t think Ray D has been as successfully integrated into cinema as he should have been. With his lyrical strength and interest in narrative and character, as well as just his sheer talent, some kind of musical would seem a natural. And Absolute Beginners doesn’t quite make it.

  7. Latest FaBlog: A Loaded Pistol (Note: contains considerable Dearden content.)

  8. Beautiful! I had to look up the dates, but you’re right: even after Victim, it took seven years for the law to change (even then, homosexual relationships were by no means equal in the eyes of the law). Ten years after the Wolfenden Report had recommended a change.

    David Wingrove reckons maybe Dearden and Relph were more than business partners, but I don’t think this has ever been confirmed. Fiona suggests Paul Massie’s miscasting may be a result of Dearden fancying him. But come on: he’s not THAT cute.

  9. I just got finished watching the “Victim” clip on David’s FaBlog page. I had never seen the film, only read about it in “The Celluloid Closet” and “I Lost It At The Movies.”

    I love this exchange …

    Syms: How did you come to meet a boy like that?
    Bogarde: In the Spring.

  10. Ah, poetry! Nice the way class comes into it too. “…a boy like that.” It’s bad enough that he’s the same sex, but he’s a different social class!

  11. […] is a reprint of an article originally published at BritMovie.com. The original linking piece is HERE. I’ve kept the few original framegrabs but included more from an upgraded copy — […]

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