TOMS, COONS, MULATTOES, MAMMIES, AND BUCKS: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films by Donald Bogle

TOMS, COONS, MULATTOES, MAMMIES, AND BUCKS: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films

KIRKUS REVIEW

Indeed, in the very beginning there was an Uncle Tom, significantly an ersatz Tom, a white movie director who in 1903 filmed himself in blackface for a twelve-minute production of the Harriet Beecher Stowe novel. More Toms followed as the industry grew, joined in the '20's by other black stereotypes like the bossy mammy and baadddd nigger buck (most unforgettably depicted in The Birth of a Nation), then the high-steppin' comic jester and pickaninny-type named Buckwheat or Farina, on through the '30's and '40's of ""Bojangles"" Robinson, Stepin Fetchit's step-chillun, Rochester, Hattie McDaniel and Gone with the Wind (which Bogle contends was the first portrayal of slaves as ""complex human beings""), the mighty Paul Robeson, the beautiful Lena Home of Stormy Weather, the breakthrough interracial romance Pinky, on through the '50's of Ethel Waters, Dorothy Dandridge, and ""Integrationist Age"" hero Sidney Poitier, then into the militant '60's with more Poitier (an angrier Poitier), Sammy Davis, Jr., ""Separatist Age"" hero Jim Brown, and the coming of ""the new-style black film"" like Putney Swope, and finally the present decade of Shaft and Super Fly. Bogle, a former Ebony editor, is a film historian with no thesis beyond the observation that the black actor's ""past entitles him to a better future."" But what Bogle does -- critical commentary on the major films and people -- he does well.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1973
Publisher: Viking