The Black Kino Fist: Black life as depicted in film history

A Soldier's Story (1984)

"Richard Pryor had ruled the movies for years as a comedy star and standup comic guru, but Hollywood was hurting for the next Sidney Poitier. Could America even accept one? “I don’t think the country is ready for black leading men,” Eddie Murphy told TIME. “White guys won’t accept their ladies’ going nuts over a black actor.” He said this in 1984, when the great black hope for young dramatic actors was Howard E. Rollins, Jr., who had earned an Oscar nomination for Ragtime. Rollins was the star of this excellent racial murder mystery, based on Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer-winning A Soldier’s Play. But the real news, in retrospect, was the eye-catching performance by a young African American making his first bid for dramatic stardom in movies. Denzel Washington played a glowering G.I. in A Soldier’s Story, and he stole a little of the limelight from Rollins, who was saddled with the kind of lead — a quiet, noble lawyer who checks his rage at the door — that would automatically go to Poitier before him and Washington after.
There was cunning and pride in Washington’s work here, and subtlety too. His potential seemed unlimited for playing memorable heroes or villains, Othello or Iago. But he was too handsome, dammit, for Hollywood not to cast him as Mr. Righteous. That he did soon become something like the next Poitier was both a blessing and a pity."
- Richard Corliss for Time
Status: Available for purchase.

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