Black Like Me (1964)
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|Movie Review by BillyBob |
March 9th, 2014
Black Like Who (!?) In Black & White
For starters - I certainly don't condone vicious, hateful racism, but, with that said, I flatly refuse to accept that the guy in this movie was either black like me, or black like you, or black like anybody else, for that matter.
In fact, I honestly don't think that he (with the white of his neck clearly showing under the back of his collar) was black like anything that I've ever seen on the face of this Earth. He really wasn't.
And, if he really thought that he was black like me, or like you, or like anybody else, then I'd say he certainly had a rude awakening coming his way or else he'd better check himself into the nearest asylum, like pronto, for a spell.
(Seriously, folks!) I found James Whitmore's portrayal of a white man posing as a black man to be just about the most laughable impersonation ever recorded on film that I've ever seen.
It was a damn good thing that this picture was filmed in black & white, otherwise Whitmore's baby-blue eyes and smudgy, grease-painted, minstrel-show face would've been completely impossible for the viewer to accept at face value and, thus, keep a straight face at the same time.
But, with that aside, the fact that all of the characters (whether they were black or white) in this film's story totally accepted (without the slightest hesitation) Whitmore's character as being a bona-fide "knee-grow" clearly made them all out to be some of the absolutely most stupidest people (whatever their race) on the face of this whole, wide world, bar none.
Hey, folks! I'm really, really trying to be fair-minded here, but, the truth is, even if I were clinically blind, Whitmore (with his blotchy make-up) couldn't have fooled me for even a split second that he was a "black-like-me" dude. Never!
Yes. I do realize that this 1964 film was probably made with the best intentions in mind. But, in order for it to have raised the awareness of ignoramuses regarding such pressing issues (then & now) as prejudice and racial violence, this decidedly low-budget production clearly required 2 essential elements necessary to guarantee its commercial/social success. And those 2 essential elements missing from "Black Like Me" were (1) having a heart and (2) having a soul. It had neither.
Yeah-Yeah. I know I could go on and on here, beefing about this & that (especially about Whitmore's character deliberately blowing his cover far too often) - But, in closing, there's just one more thought about racism/segregation that I'd like to add (with all solemnity) to this here review.
After what "Black Like Me" clearly showed me in regards to the harmonious and good-will atmosphere that seemed to prevail in the ghettos of the blacks who were living in the south-eastern States (circa 1964) - Shabby as these places obviously were, I personally think that blacks were probably better off segregated into their ghettos, than were whites living in ghettos of an equal standing.
Well, hey, at least blacks, in all of their ghetto-poverty, could rightfully point an accusing finger at the whites for being the ones who initially put them there.
Where, on the other hand, whites living in ghettos had absolutely no one to blame but themselves for their state of poverty and destitution. I mean, no one can ever say that it was blacks who forced the whites into this ghetto-situation.
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