Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sparkle (Dreamgirls v1.0)

"Dreamgirls" got me thinking about the film 1976 film "Sparkle." The movie follows the rise and fall of a fictional 1960s girl group, Sister and the Sisters. You get the impression the movie was designed as a vehicle for Irene Cara (r), but the spectacularly fine Lonette McKee (c), in her first motion picture appearance, steals the show. Speaking of McKee, I've been revisiting her work in recent years--and she is spellbinding. Look at the work of any Oscar nominated actress of the 1970s and 1980s, then watch McKee in movies like "Cuba," "The Cotton Club" and she's right there with them.

You can predict "Sparkle" 's plot from a mile away; the ending is too upbeat, given the journey that precedes it; and the entire film looks like it was shot on a single street. But the music is pretty good as are the performances by a young Mary Alice, a pre-Miami Vice Phillip Michael Thomas, Dorian Harewood and Tony King. Check out a clip here:

Friday, June 29, 2007

Soul Closet Cinema: Trouble Man

Trailer for blaxploitation classic from 1972 starring Robert Hooks. Sounds like the narrator is the late/great Adolph Caesar.

Who's the Man, Who Would Bare Himself for His Fellow Man....?

Dig this ad from 1969. Supposed to be an underwear ad, but it looks like five guys making a pact never to get hoodwinked into going outside without their clothes again. And yes, the second fellow from the left is indeed Richard Roundtree, who later found fame as Shaft.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Levi's Ad, 1971

Levi's Jeans gives us this groovy couple from 1971. They are buying produce as the sun sets. Lemme guess: He's into Sun Ra, Roy Ayers, maybe the old blues acts at the Fillmore; he's not into television, tried to watch "Julia" but it wasn't his bag. She's a primary school teacher, UCLA class of 1966, studied tap as a kid; she reads James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni, does not care if Huey is free or not. The tag line at the bottom of the ad asks anyone has had a bad time in Levis. They will have a great time, particularly after he stops off and buys that 3 gallon glass jug of fruity wine that he likes.

The 1967 movie "Bonnie & Clyde" influenced fashion for at least 5 years--and this is an example from an Ebony Magazine fashion spread from 1972. But by now it was late in the trend and while the woman's dress could conceivably be Bonnie-ish, what in the green sweet world are those harlequinized get-ups those jokers have on?? Bring on Denver Pyle and the Texas Rangers and end this thing.

Who Was Putney Swope?

Ever see this movie? In 1989, I tracked down this forgotten 1970 movie. It's an irreverent, great flick, directed by Robert Downey (not Jr., but his father). Basic story: Partners in an advertising firm accidentally vote the black partner as the new head of the company. He fires them all, keeps and advances the black staff and tries to move in a new, inclusive direction, but at what cost. Reminds me of Animal Farm, the great George Orwell book that about animals, but really is about communism. Putney is about advertising, but is really about something a little deeper. Yeah, its a little dated now with zooming shots and assorted late 60s cinematic goofiness. But still fun to watch. Not with the kids, tho.