Black Film/White Money

Overview

Why are there so few Black filmmakers who control their own work? Why are there scarcely any Black women behind the camera? What happens to Black filmmakers when they move from independent production to the mainstream? What does it mean for whites to control Black images and their distribution globally? And, was it always so? Could it be different?

In this vivid portrait of their historic and present-day contributions, Jesse Rhines explores the roles African American men and ...

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Overview

Why are there so few Black filmmakers who control their own work? Why are there scarcely any Black women behind the camera? What happens to Black filmmakers when they move from independent production to the mainstream? What does it mean for whites to control Black images and their distribution globally? And, was it always so? Could it be different?

In this vivid portrait of their historic and present-day contributions, Jesse Rhines explores the roles African American men and women have played in the motion picture business from 1915 to the present. He illuminates his discussion by carefully linking the history of early Black filmmaking to the current success of African American filmmakers and examines how African Americans have been affected by changes that have taken place in the industry as a whole. He focuses on the crucial role of distribution companies, the difficulty of raising money for production, the compromises that directors and writers must make to get funding, and the effect of negative, sensationalistic images on the Black community.

Rhines surveys significant eras in film history and their impact on African Americans, from the silent era through the emergence of the Black-owned Lincoln Motion Picture Company, and the later introduction of sound, to the postwar era, the antitrust suit against Paramount Pictures, the introduction of television, and blaxploitation movies. Rhines interviews many well-known directors, including Spike Lee and Reginald Hudlin, and producer Grace Blake, giving readers an inside look at how deal-making does--or does not--work.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In sober, almost fatigued prose, Rhines, a professor of political economy in the African American and African studies department at Rutgers's Newark campus, traces the roles that African Americans have played-or not played-in all aspects of the movies from 1895 to the present. Rhines efficiently covers an impressive breadth of subjects through considerable original research. He relates an entire troubled history of blacks in cinema from Edison's experiments, silent movies such as The Birth of a Nation and a response to it, Birth of a Race, to Depression and WWII era films, to blaxploitation movies of the '70s such as Shaft and the "gangsta" blockbusters of the '80s and early '90s such as Boyz N the Hood. But Rhines also discusses Hollywood's discriminatory employment practices, the special concerns of black female filmmakers, Spike Lee's failure as a "responsible social critic" and how film distribution "is the greatest obstacle to broad-based success for African American feature filmmakers, film crews, and film cast members." Rhines consistently treats "art" as a product in a "system of economic relations that pits one group against another in the interest of singular economic gain." Neither humanism nor aesthetic experimentation is enough to counteract this colossal problem, he says. Despite this pessimism and his implication that the "system" has a life of its own, Rhines still encourages members of the "black urban underclass" to choose moviemaking as a career. Forty-seven b&w illustrations. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813522678
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Distribution, Production, and Exhibition 8
Ch. 2 The Silent Era 14
Ch. 3 Depression and World War II 28
Ch. 4 The Negro Cycle through Blaxploitation: 1945-1974 36
Ch. 5 Blockbusters and Independents: 1975 to the Present 51
Ch. 6 Employment Discrimination 79
Ch. 7 Black Women in the System 88
Ch. 8 Unintended Collusion: The Case of Spike Lee 103
Ch. 9 The Struggle Continues behind the Camera 136
Ch. 10 Conclusion 152
Ch. 11 Epilogue 161
Notes 177
Index 189
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2007

    Excellent film history, poor conclusion

    Rutgers professor Jesse Rhines writes a compelling history of the involvement of African-Americans in the U.S. film industry from its developing years up to the 1990s, and the struggles black filmmakers faced attempting to bring their vision to the big screen. Unfortunately, Rhines' book is marred by his conclusion, that the collapse of the Hollywood blockbuster (he finished the book just as Schwarzeneggar's 'Last Action Hero' was flopping) would usher in a new era of independent film. It's 15 years later, and the blockbuster shows no sign of disappearing, while independent films (at least those not released by an 'indie arm' of an established studio like Fox Searchlight or Sony Picture Classics) continue to struggle to make it into general release. The book really needs an updated edition, if only to correct Rhines' erroneous conclusions and predictions

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2002

    Simply Said: This is a very intelligent book

    I have had the pleasure of having Dr. Jesse Rhines as a professor for three years at Rutgers-Newark. He is not only a thought-provoking and one-in-a-million professor but an excellent writer. His book has educated me in more ways about race, the film industry, and the movie-going public than any other article or book has. It is a must-read for anyone interested in racial dynamics or the film industry. As a graduate of both Rutgers' undergraduate English and African and African-American Studies programs and a current graduate student, I must recommend this book as a must read for student and teacher alike. I have lended out my copy of his book many times and have encouraged the borrowers to buy their own!!

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