THE DEVIL FINDS WORK by James Baldwin

THE DEVIL FINDS WORK

KIRKUS REVIEW

This, Baldwin's unexpected consideration of movie-made America, has some of the same sad sweetness of his last novel If Beale Street Could Talk. It even addresses itself, quietly and elliptically, to the same ironies: the only truth Baldwin recognizes in American fares that purport to show black lives comes in those rare moments when rage, terror, and pain are on display. Usually in an actor's face, since the scripts always lie. Baldwin wanders in and out of Lady Sings the Blues, In the Heat of the Night, The Defiant Ones, The Exorcist, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and some others and finds them testaments to falsehood, self-serving images of blacks conjured up out of the need to reassure or exonerate white audiences. In the famous scene in The Defiant Ones where Sidney Poitier leaps from the train and gives up freedom to remain with his wounded white buddy, Baldwin points devastatingly to "that most disastrous sentimentality" which tries to bring the black man into the white American nightmare--a nightmare which centers on identity and therefore elicits from whites "the most profound panic." Baldwin ignores the current tidal wave of black films, Shaft and its progeny, on the basis that their whole purpose is to make the true black experience "irrelevant and obsolete." One might quarrel with such a sweeping put-down, but as it is his films are touchstones for his own experiences in fear and trembling.
Pub Date: May 3rd, 1976
ISBN: 0385334605
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1976




MORE BY JAMES BALDWIN

NonfictionTHE CROSS OF REDEMPTION by James Baldwin
by James Baldwin
NonfictionJAMES BALDWIN by James Baldwin
by James Baldwin
FictionJAMES BALDWIN by James Baldwin
by James Baldwin