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A tale of innocence abroad, with racial overtones. Turner is a Black American, stationed at an air base in France. His captain thinks Turner's a good Negro, obedient, cheerful, and frightened, so he gives him a promotion and a three-day pass. On the first night, at a club, he meets Miriam, a White Parisian shop clerk. They dance, talk, and fantasize about each other. He's amazed when she agrees to spend the weekend with him at a Normandy beach hotel; in fact, he guesses she's a prostitute. She's not, they go; it's off season, they have their pick of rooms, and romance ensues. Then, racial misunderstanding and real prejudice complicate the weekend and its aftermath. Written by
great movie, deserve more recognition than it's gotten.
"The Story of a Three Day Pass"(1968) was made by Melvin Van Peebles, generally considered to be the father of the "blaxploitation" film owing to his 1971 film "Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asss Song". I had heard about "Three Day Pass" on an episode of "Siskel and Ebert", otherwise I never would have seen it. That would have been a shame. This movie tells the tale of a black soldier named Turner, in France, recently promoted by his white commander for being "trustworthy", and given three days leave to enjoy himself. He heads to Paris. He's seen at times wandering around the city in a slow, almost anticipatory way, and we the audience get the feeling that something is going to happen. In the streets he sees a performer who's bound in chains as the bound man's partner exclaims "for centuries man has been chained...today see how a man can free himself". Soon Turner takes up with a white French girl for a three day "taboo" romance. It's a liberating experience for Turner, but destined to fail in the end. In many ways this is a simple movie, almost like a college film. The director uses still photos, newsreel type scenes of carnage and violence are cut in at various times,and Turner talks to his own reflection in the mirror. But this is a very satisfying a "human" movie. There's a scene early on where Turner is trying to get a girl in a beatnik looking club to dance with him. He's wearing his shades and looking cool, but she turns him down. When his sunglasses are accidentally knocked off, the girl sees the uncertainty in his eyes, sees the person, and she accepts his invitation. There's more than one time in the movie that it would appear that the three day leave may end early, on a sour note, but every time the dirctor raises Turner back up and the good time is back on. This movie really is a lot of fun to watch. The couple laughs and plays like kids at times, there are a lot of cool 60's images, a catchy soundtrack (apparently original), and it makes the appropriate fun of Turner's overbearing commander. What more could you ask? I felt compelled to write this review because there are no reviews of this film on the internet, not that I could find, anyway. What a shame. "The Story of a Three Day Pass" is playing all month (Jan. 1999) on the Sundance Channel. "Plus fort, man, plus fort"!
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