Archive for May 31, 2017

Chains

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , on May 31, 2017 by dcairns

SLAVE SHIP (1937) is a uniquely horrible thing. A Hollywood drama “about” the slave trade, it has a slave ship captain as hero and no black characters of any kind. The black faces are treated as cargo by the movie as much as they are by the white characters. And at the climax, they’re all chained together and tossed overboard.

Admittedly, the film intends to create suspense out of this and make you hope that the chain will be cut and the drowning stopped. But it still shows you dozens of screaming people dunked in the drink, never to be rescued. And this is spectacle. If they were white civilians in jeopardy, we all know the rescue would have to come much sooner, maybe even before the first fatality. Who movies make disposable tells you everything you need to know about their priorities.

(Warner Baxter pauses to exchange words with Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Allan before walking, slowly, to the rescue.)

Tay Garnett directed this, sad to report. Zanuck produced, which strikes me as revealing.

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