Native Son (1951)

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Native Son: Directed by Pierre Chenal. With Richard Wright, Jean Wallace, Gloria Madison, Nicholas Joy. In 1940s Chicago, a young black man takes a job as a chauffeur to a white family, which takes a turn for the worse when he accidentally kills the teenage daughter of the couple and then tries to cover it up.

“As an admirer of Wrightu0026#39;s written work – especially u0026quot;Native Sonu0026quot; – I had incredibly low expectations for several reasons: there was next to no budget, the cast and crew (including the starring role) were all amateurs, the director was not American and had never made an American film before this, the film had to be shot in Argentina, and u0026quot;Native Sonu0026quot; is such a dense, complex, psychological piece of work to begin with.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eBut, if you look at this as a simple B-movie melodrama with a racial subtext that was badly missing from almost all of the films of its day, it isnu0026#39;t bad. In film, you donu0026#39;t get motivation, you get action, and the novel u0026quot;Native Sonu0026quot; was all about hidden motivations and desires. Maybe it was a bad idea to even attempt to make Wrightu0026#39;s novel into a film, but one must give him and the filmmakers credit for trying. In the era just before the McCarthy hearings and the blacklist, a feature film released to the public that was even half as potent as Wrightu0026#39;s novel would have been commendable. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAn idea actually occurred to me while watching this: someone should make a feature film about the making of u0026quot;Native Son.u0026quot; From what Iu0026#39;ve read, the production faced many obstacles and setbacks, both physical and ideological, and I think the story behind this would be fascinating – especially the difficulty of an author playing his own creation while trying to maintain his artistic integrity. Of course, Wrightu0026#39;s life was fascinating in and of itself. Spike Lee, are you listening?”


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