Melvin Van Peebles in
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
Sweet Sweetback is Melvin Van Peebles' 70's indie film that is credited with being one of the first films of the 70's to show that a film starring and made by a black person could have crossover appeal. This is an interesting concept to keep in mind when watching it, because it is anything but commercial or sanitized! There is sex and violence and a lot of unpleasantness throughout. But wasn't that what 70's cinema was in general? It showed us something different on the screen that we had never seen before. Sweet Sweetback is indeed a badass and he's coming back and takin' names!
Most of the blackploitation movies of the 70's which Sweet Sweetback paved the way for were much more mass audience oriented...at least by comparison. I am going to be catching up with some of these on upcoming blog posts.
How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company
(and Enjoy It)
I was curious enough about Van Peebles to watch the documentary How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company(and Enjoy It) . A most interesting life Melvin has led. Soldier, novelist, maker of short French films, landmark filmmaker in America, musician, and Wall Street Trader...plus the guy never ceases to have scores of girlfriends even into his 80's!
I first saw Van Peebles' Watermelon Man (1970) on television when I was in High School. It is about a bigoted white man who turns black one morning and has to deal with the consequences. I wanted to find a copy of it, but it seems a little hard to find these days. That's a shame, because I remember it as being quite funny and with a serious and highly effective final shot. I'll keep looking.
(and Enjoy It)