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Black Like Me (1964)

 -  Drama  -  20 May 1964 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 372 users  
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Based on the true story of a white reporter who, at the height of the civil-rights movement, temporarily darkened his skin so that he could experience the realities of a black man's life in the segregated South.

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Title: Black Like Me (1964)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
John Finley Horton
...
Dr. Jackson
...
Christopher
...
Thomas Newcomb
...
Robert Gerringer ...
Ed Saunders
...
Eli Carr
John Marriott ...
Hodges
Thelma Oliver ...
Georgie
Lenka Peterson ...
Lucy Horton (as Lenka Petersen)
P. Jay Sidney ...
Frank Newcomb (as P.J. Sidney)
Billie Allen ...
Vertell
Alan Bergmann ...
Charles Maynard
Stanley Brock ...
Salesman
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Storyline

Black Like Me is the true account of John Griffin's experiences when he passed as a black man. John Horton takes treatments to darken his skin and leaves his home in Texas to travel throughout the South. At one stop, Horton encounters a black shoe shine man, Burt Wilson, who befriends him and shows him how to "act right" so that he can fit more easily into the African American culture. It is through Wilson that Horton learns the art of shining shoes. Most of his encounters with whites are quite degrading and disturb him. As a hitchhiker, John meets several white men who refer to black men and women in disparaging ways which angers John. Throughout the movie, John is harassed and persecuted by whites without reason. In one of his many stops throughout the South, John finds himself on a park bench sitting by a white woman. A white man walks by and says, "You'd better find another place to sit." Even though he had a college degree, menial jobs were all that he could find. John meets ... Written by Broncine G. Carter

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"I changed the color of my skin... now I know what it feels like to be BLACK!"

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

20 May 1964 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Connections

Referenced in Hearts Afire: Fat Like Me (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Heart in the right place
23 August 2014 | by See all my reviews

John Howard Griffin was a white reporter who darken his skin to experience life as a black man in the deep South. This is based on his book. John Finley Horton (James Whitmore) from Texas wants to write a series of articles on integration for Eli Carr (Clifton James) but he's afraid of the repercussions. He gets treatments of pills and tanning lamps to darken his skin. Along the way, he reveals the truth to shoeshine Burt Wilson (Richard Ward) and gets his help to pass.

"I changed the color of my skin... now I know what it feels like to be BLACK!" They couldn't get away with that tagline today. No matter how well the disguise, the color doesn't come off of a black man at the end of the day. Its heart is in the right place, but James Whitmore looks like a darkened white man. The eyes are one problem and he needs a good pair of sunglasses. The other problem is that it isn't always a compelling movie. There are scenes of eye opening racism. There are also weird little scenes about race relations. It's put together like a series of disconnected vignettes. As a movie, it doesn't really flow and the acting sometimes fall into melodrama territories. It's still interesting to watch.


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