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Soul Man (1986)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Romance | 24 October 1986 (USA)
To achieve his dream of attending Harvard, a pampered teen poses as a young black man to receive a full scholarship.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Sarah Walker
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Gordon Bloomfeld
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Professor Banks
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Whitney Dunbar
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Mr. Dunbar
Ann Walker ...
Mrs. Dunbar
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Bill Watson (as James B. Sikking)
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Dr. Aronson
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Ray McGrady
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Mrs. Dorothy Watson (as Marie Cheatham)
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Barky Brewer (as Wally Ward)
Eric Schiff ...
Booey Fraser
Ron Reagan ...
Frank
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Storyline

Mark doesn't expect any problems in going to college: he and his friend have reserved places in Harvard and his parents have the money to pay for his education there. But suddenly his father's neurotic psychiatrist advises him to go on vacation in Hawaii instead of spending more money on his son. Since Mark wants to keep his lifestyle, including a fancy car and a flat shared with his friend, he seeks financial support. The only foundation which still accepts applications is for blacks only -- no problem, with lots of bronzing pills and "soul in his voice" he sets out to Harvard. Soon he has to realize that being black will cause some people to handle him differently. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Mark needs a scholarship to get into Harvard. There's one more available for a black student. The problem is Mark's not black... Yet. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

24 October 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Imposter  »

Box Office

Gross:

$27,820,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

C. Thomas Howell's father, Chris Howell, did the stunts for this movie. See more »

Goofs

About fifteen minutes into the picture, Mark and Gordon are seen traveling up Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, adjacent to the Harvard campus, and suddenly, they're not on Mass. Ave. anymore, they're on Quincy St., a couple blocks away. Then, just as suddenly, they're right back on Mass Ave., again proceeding through Harvard Square, just as they were before. See more »

Quotes

Gordon Bloomfeld: Objection!
Professor Banks: To what?
Gordon Bloomfeld: Quite frankly, to your tone of voice.
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Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob Movie (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue
By Andy Razaf, Fats Waller (as Thomas Waller), Harry Brooks
Performed by Louis Armstrong
Courtesy of CBS Records
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User Reviews

 
Soul Man Goes To College Of Hard Knocks
19 October 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

When Soul Man first came out it got razzed terribly for joking about a sensitive topic. I think the critics didn't quite get the film, they thought it was a racist attack on minorities.

Set aside scholarships are private and what C. Thomas Howell does is attempt to defraud the givers of said scholarship by passing himself off as black. Picture if you will somebody like Fred Phelps endowing a scholarship to Bob Jones University, the only place I'm aware that would take his money, on someone that Phelps feels reflects his proper and God inspired outlook on the American scene.

But it would be legal because it's Phelps's money to do with as he wishes. Now the endowers of that scholarship to Harvard meant it for someone like Rae Dawn Chong. So when Howell grabs it because his parents decide to make him pay his own way and he's too lazy to do it or heaven forfend, go to another law school he is defrauding her.

That's the sum and substance of Soul Man. Of course in passing himself off as black, Howell makes a few unpleasant discoveries about himself and a lot of people around him. And of course there's that old Cupid thing with him and Chong.

James Earl Jones makes the most intimidating law professor this side of John Houseman. Arye Gross gets the role of best friend and confidante in Howell's scheme and Melora Hardin who now occasionally plays the ghost of Trudy Monk on Monk is the spoiled rich girl who gets back at her parents by sleeping with minorities.

Soul Man gets silly and a bit forced at times. But it's not deserving of all the knocks it's been given over the years.


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