cover image Blackface: Reflections on African-Americans and the Movies

Blackface: Reflections on African-Americans and the Movies

Nelson George, N. George. HarperCollins Publishers, $22 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017120-9

According to the publisher, this book caps George's trilogy on black popular culture, after Elevating the Game, on basketball, and The Death of Rhythm and Blues, on music. But even the author acknowledges that Blackface is ``more a memoir than a critique,'' and although his observations are often worthy and his style entertaining, his take is too scattershot to do his subject justice. He begins with memories of his Brooklyn youth, offering pointed reflections on Sidney Poitier and The Godfather. George became a music journalist and wound up in Brooklyn's Fort Greene, where he met Spike Lee and soon segued into the burgeoning 1980s world of black film as a writer and producer. He devotes a chapter to comments on early 1990s black films, from New Jack City to Daughters of the Dust, then a long chapter to the making of the ``rapumentary'' CB4, which he produced. George sums up by suggesting that innovations-through independent distribution or a ``direct-to-home-video market''-are needed to get more black films to their targeted audience. Interspersed amid the chapters is a lengthy, annotated time line on black film. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)