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Black Girl, originally a play by Texas born writer J. E. Franklin, was adapted for the screen by Franklin and directed by the great Ossie Davis. The result is a stagey but effective extended family drama, with three sisters (Gloria Edwards, Loretta Greene, and Peggy Pettit) plotting against the successful adopted fourth daughter (Leslie Uggams). Brock Peters is top-billed as the father of the girls, but his performance is little more than a glorified cameo, and it's up to the women to carry the show. Most effective are Greene, as the pregnant middle daughter, Louise Stubbs as the mother, and Claudia McNeill as the grandmother and matriarch of the family. Less effective is Uggams, whose droopy eyed look simply doesn't evince much sympathy, and Edwards, who is over the top at times as the eldest and meanest sibling. There's a brief non-speaking appearance by Mrs. Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and a sterling performance by an uncredited gentlemen who plays Mr. Herbert, a boarder who has shacked up with McNeill's character. This film is all about the characters, and there are some meaty scenes, especially when Uggams returns home from college unannounced. The film was clearly a labour of love, and all things considered, is a simple but solid effort, quite moving at times and generally effective.
I have seen Black Girl about 4 or 5 times, and I enjoy it each time I see it. TV One runs it quite a bit. I'm a product of the 70's and I just love the 70's. I love all the old movies from the 70's. The part of Netta was played by Leslie Uggams (did you notice how knock-kneed she is? LOL) I was surprised to learn that the father in the movie was a pimp. I didn't even realize that, but he did have a Caddy and was throwing money around like it was just plain old paper. A few of the cast members are deceased: Gloria Edwards, Claudia McNeill, the lady who played the mother. Did anyone know that Gloria Edwards was married to the actor Dick Anthony Williams?
Loved it! Loved it! Were some of the best movies made in the 1970's or what? The characters in this film were so real and foul-mouthed, it moved me. I was just a baby when this movie was made, but I could relate to the story. I caught the second half of this movie and could not move, it was so entertaining and well written. This is the type of movie our culture lacks today- Content. I have to have this movie in my DVD collection! I really would like to see more movies like this in theaters and on television. There was an underlying message amidst the great acting skills of the characters. My favorite characters were Norma and Billie Jean. I gotta see this movie again to catch the first half and get the overall message...
This movie is one in which deserves a 2nd look (maybe a 3rd). You have to REALLY know what it's like to grow up black back in the 70's in a house w/ siblings who's father is different than your own and a mother who just does not get it until you are out the door (if then). The portrayal of many of the characters was REAL. While not in the brightest of light, they all have quite a bit of growing to do. At least a some growth was accomplished in this movie. The treatment of the child with a different father was very common. The mother's ignorance and anger at how her life turned out was truthful in every way. The father who pops in town flashing a new car and very new money was common. The siblings running to him to get what little he would provide was also common. Nowadays, children could very much care less. I doubt if he'd get the same reception in 2006. I too don't understand while Brock received headline status, other than his name. Peggy Pettit was the real star in this movie. I am proud to have found that she is doing wonderful work with her talent these days!
This is a very interesting movie to me.I don't remember seeing it back when it came out and I would have.Claudia McNeil(Mu'Dear) is a favorite of mine ever since I saw her in the movie version of "A Raisin in the Sun."With all the shouting and bickering through this film it was nice to have her calm everything down at the end.I couldn't figure out where al the anger came from in the household.It seemed like the movie started in the middle of the story being told.The youngest daughter has quit school and is dancing in a bar,the mother(Mama Rose) is working as a maid to support the household yet everybody is grown.The two oldest daughters don't live at home,the grandmother has a man living with her and btw that seemed very out of character like something the mother would be doing instead.Also for all the preaching Mama Rose did when the father(a pimp?) of the two oldest comes back for a visit he makes a vulgar comment about the youngest(Billie Jean)saying he'd take her to Detroit and turn her out. She isn't his child and everybody except the boarder thinks it's funny.Billie Jean wants to study dance and buy her mother a house while the two oldest are the meanest and most hateful characters and both got on my nerves throughout the whole film.Neither were doing anything but having children and talking about their husbands yet both were very jealous of Billie Jean and Netta(college student) who their mother had taken in.They seem to exist to spew poison about both girls and use Netta to drag Billie Jean down to their hateful level which happens.A basic cable channel that features African-Americans shows this movie regularly and I'm sad to find out after he passed this week that Ossie Davis directed it.His wife Ruby Dee plays Netta disturbed mother that couldn't care for her.Netta comes into the movie so late you almost forget she's involved.The plot is Mama Rose can only talk about how proud she is of her daughter Netta and with mother's day coming up she's looking forward to her coming home.Her three daughters are sick of their mother praising a stranger while having nothing good to say about her blood children.All three hide Netta's letters to Mama Rose and she has no idea about it.Norma and Ruth Ann tell Billie Jean their mother is giving Netta her room and that she'll probably have to move out.Turns out Billie Jean had already been hiding Netta's letters to her mother and all three hide the last one annoucing Netta's homecoming.From then on it's a lot of bickering between them all and Earl(father) when he gets there that really about how all of them did nothing with their lives like Netta did.Earl throws money around and even asks Rose to take him back but she's too proud and he leaves.Netta comes home and finds out she needs her real mother after all and helps Billie Jean find get on the path to an education and dance career.The movie showed mainly what was the normal acting style in the 70's for blacks.Eyes popping,pronoucing every syllable,shouting and glaring at the other actor.This movie should be viewed by students that want to be actors to see how far we've come.Or have we? I said it was interesting because in the 70's every black movie was a drug/prostitute/pimp/police/detective plot movie. mojo2004
The story has several stories intertwined. It takes place in the 70's as evident by the Afro hairstyles. It's the story of a matriarchal family, which includes Mu'Dear, her daughter and three granddaughters plus an adopted educated daughter. The sisters take ignorance to another level in that they see education and wanting to better oneself as selling out, as in a negative behavior. One sister does not have the same father, but does have a better disposition and career aspirations. The half sister, Billie Jean has aspirations of being a dancer, but her lazy no count sisters don't want her become anything more higher than them. It is truly the epitome of the crabs in the basket syndrome. Mu'Dear and her live in lover provide some much needed wisdom and stability in the family. The sisters envy an adopted sister because she made something of herself. The mother favors this daughter and it creates resentment amongst the sisters. The mother behavior is based upon fear and ignorance. Mrs. Ruby Dee has a special guest role as a woman with mental problems and the mother of the adopted daughter. I was interested in the actors and was very sad that pictures and more biographical information was not available on some of the characters. Brock Peters has an interesting role as the father of two of the sisters. He unsuccessfully tries to reunite with his family. It is a good movie to see as it shows how we have evolved in subject matter, movie directing and production.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like the previous commenter stated, it seemed as if the movie started
in the middle.
Basically Mama Rose has 3 biological daughters. Two of them - and I forget their names - are the most horrible, jealous haters on all the planet! They are both married with a litter of untrained children. It's odd because you NEVER see either of their husbands. The third daughter is Billie Jean. I keep wondering where they found this ugly girl to play this part but anyway...Billie Jean is the youngest and she loves to dance. (IMO, her dancing was horrible; nothing that stood out and it was mostly the "robot" and other corny dances for that time period).
At any rate she is a quiet girl, almost timid. She has dropped out of school and dances for...dang...25 cents a pop at some dive. It's nothing exotic or anything, she just...dances average 70s disco dances.
Well, Mama Rose is disappointed at all of her daughters but there is one shining ray of light and her name is Netta. Now Netta is no kin to Mama Rosie. In fact she was some stray whose mother (played by the beautiful Ruby Dee) has some sort of mental ailment that Moma Rosie (MR) took in. Netta is everything MR's girls aren't; beautiful, intelligent, self assured and assertive. She wants more out of life than to just plop babies out every year.
MR brags and brags about her play daughter (Netta) and hopes that she will see her on Mother's Day. What MR didn't know is that Netta had written her stating she would be seeing her on that day but one of her mean UGLY daughters hid the letter.
While all this bragging, jealousy and hatefulness is going on, in pops Earl, the two eldest girls' father. He is some wide nostril having wannabe pimp. Not too sure of the story but it seems that he and MR have a love/hate relationship. So he slithers into town in his brand new big Lincoln and starts passing out money. Of course the two eldest are all for it, so is MR but Billie Jean overhears him talking to MR about how that ain't his daughter but he gave her his last name.
OK, so that drags on for a while. Finally, Netta comes. Before she gets there, the three daughters (yes, Billie Jean too) all talk about Netta. Billie Jean gets hyped up and like a FLUNKY STOOGE she follow those hateful troll sisters of her into some mean plan to be hateful and full of contempt for Netta. MR has no idea that Netta was coming to town so the girls concoct this plan that when Netta gets there, they're going to let her have it.
So Netta get to the home. She is not warmly received. They all sit around playing cards and ignoring her. Netta really isn't surprised by the two eldest but Billie's behavior sorta shocks her. They had always gotten along (from what I gather). Netta tries to be a lady and be nice but it falls on death ears. Things get so bad that one of the ugly sisters (with the acne) pulls out a switch blade on her and insults her "crazy mama". Billie Jean soon starts regretting how she treated Netta because after all Netta was encouraging this ugly child to become a dancer and never to give up on her dreams.
So Netta leaves.
Mother's Day, Sunday. MR and her 3 daughters are at church. Netta is also there with her mother, only they aren't in the sanctuary, they're upstairs because Netta's real mom has some mental issues.
i caught this movie on showcase awhile ago and absolutely loved it! i thought the relationship between the siblings was fairly realistic, especially considering their situation, and it really showed how jealousy brings the worst out of people no matter how good a person the victim may be. it also gives you a pretty good feel of what it was like to be a black girl living in the slums of America back in the 70's. anyway, it wasn't amazing, but it appealed to me mainly because i enjoyed that time period and i loved the way they spoke, the slang and the language sounded really cool. and billy jean is a really good dancer. there is a fight scene as well that was really intense. "girl you better turn her loose!" is this ten lines yet?
Just as other writers on this page, I saw this movie on TV One. I caught it in the middle and watched it repeatedly as often as I could. I even would scan through the menu on cable to see when it would come again. But there is a GOD and I have it on DVD!!!! If you email me, I can let you know where I got it. The story is one of the greatest I've ever seen in depicting the human experience, especially in the black community. Whether or not I like the way the characters were depicted at the time, it is/was true of families today. I love this movie!!!!!! I remember seeing the eldest daughter, Norma, in "Which Way is Up?" as Richard Pryor's father's wife (if that makes sense). But I haven't seen any other actors (except Brock Peters) in other films. This movie is truly one of the best and should be discovered by all.
This was the first time I realized Ossie Davis had directed movies!! This is one of the best, angst-filled, coming of age stories I have ever seen. It should rank right up there with "A Member of the Wedding" and "To Kill A Mockingbird" as far as young girls seeking answers to life and trying to find their way. I miss Ossie Davis. He was an amazing talent to have been able to coalesce the right mood and tone for this movie from the perspective of a young girl. The cast was one of the most perfect I've seen since "A Raisin in the Sun" (Sidney Poitier version) and definitely, each actor seemed to squeeze the blood out of their respective roles. What perfection!
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