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Abstract

Like most of my colleagues engaged in film studies rather than film practice, I occasionally allow myself to fantasize about the kind of films I would produce if I were a film maker. Several commercial films popular in the last fifteen years have inspired in me a bare bones scenario. My movie would have an all black “ensemble” cast. The plot would contain flashbacks tracing the events in the characters’ adolescence that solidified their friendship. These flashbacks would be punctuated by rhythmless music performed by white artists, Although no hint of “soul” would be tolerated on my movie’s soundtrack, my black characters would enthusiastically embrace it as if it were their own.

I doubt that my film would achieve any real commercial success, in spite of the fact that so many recent movies have portrayed the reverse situation. Ever since George Lucas’ classic American Graffiti broke box office records in 1973, white film makers have endeavored to find innovative ways of turning nostalgia for the late l950s and early 1960s into movie making success in the 1970s and 1980s. The more notable efforts have included George Landis’ raucous view of early l960s fraternity life in Animal House, Steven Spielberg’s time travel adventure in Back to the Future, Francis Ford Coppola’s foray into fantasy in Peggy Sue Got Married, Lawrence Kasdan’s depiction of a reunion weekend in The Big Chill, and Rob Reiner’s glimpse of 1950s coming of age in Stand By Me.

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