A black high school senior struggles with becoming a man, and living in a middle class white neighborhood in the late 1950s U.S. In protest of the paternalistic views of the Civil War ... See full summary »
A black high school senior struggles with becoming a man, and living in a middle class white neighborhood in the late 1950s U.S. In protest of the paternalistic views of the Civil War emphasized in his history class, he storms out and gets caught smoking a cigar in the boys' room. Spence's crush on a white classmate goes nowhere because of her father's attitude toward blacks. His outspoken grandmother seems the only one who understands his angry growing pains, at the early stages of the U.S.'s Civil Rights Era. Written by
Take a Giant Step was a revelation to me concerning young Johnny Nash's performance
Continuing the reviews of African-Americans in film in chronological order for Black History Month, we're once again at 1959 when an 18-year-old Johnny Nash played a frustrated black teenager in a mostly white neighborhood who gets expelled from school because of troubles with his history teacher and smoking in the rest room. When he comes home he tells his "Gram" (Estelle Hemsley) what happened and decides to run away than face his parents Lem (Frederick O'Neal) and May (Beah Richards). I'll stop there and just say what a revelation it is, having previously known Nash as just the singer of the hit song "I Can See Clearly Now" from the early '70s, to see him here acting up a storm with so many of his veteran supporting cast. Of them, Ms. Hemsley, O'Neal, and Ms. Richards convincingly convey the struggles they all experienced moving from a poor neighborhood to the middle class one they now inhabit with Ms. Hemsley especially showing what a wise and outspoken woman she can be. She's definitely one you wouldn't want to mess with, that's for sure! Other worthy performances worth noting include Ruby Dee as the maid Christine when she opens up to Spence (Nash's character) about her background and Paulene Myers as the prostitute Violet who didn't realize how young he was when she invited him to her place. So in summary, Take a Giant Step is well worth seeing. P.S. Other people of color that appeared here include: Frances Foster, Royce Wallace, Bernie Hamilton, Smoki Whitfield, Ellen Holly in another good turn as barfly Carol, Roy Glenn as a minister, and Bill Walker as Frank the bartender. The last one would eventually have lasting fame as the Reverend Sykes in To Kill a Mockingbird when he told the daughter of Atticus Finch, "Jean Louise, stand up. Your father is passing." Oh, and since I always like citing any performer with a connection to my current home state of Louisiana, Ms. Richards was a graduate of New Orleans' Dillard University.
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