7.2/10
424
7 user 9 critic

Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored (1995)

A narrator tells the story of his childhood years in a tightly knit Afro-American community in the deep south under racial segregation.

Director:

Writers:

(book), (screenplay)
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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Poppa
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Ma Ponk
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Uncle Melvin
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Ma Pearl
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Miss Alice (as Salli Richardson)
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Miss Annie
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Mr. Walter
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Preacher Hurn
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Cliff (12 Yrs.) (as Willis Norwood Jr.)
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Mary
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Cliff at 16
Iona Morris ...
Nila Fontaine
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Sammy (19 Yrs.) / Narrator (as Phill Lewis)
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Mr. Will
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Miss Maybry
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Storyline

This film relates the story of a tightly connected Afro-American community informally called Colored Town where the inhabitants live and depend on each other in a world where racist oppression is everywhere, as told by a boy called Cliff who spent his childhood there. Despite this, we see the life of the community in all its joys and sorrows, of those that live there while others decide to leave for a better life north. For those remaining, things come to a serious situation when one prominent businessman is being muscled out by a white competitor using racist intimidation. In response, the community must make the decision of whether to submit meekly like they always have, or finally fight for their rights. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements including mild violence, language, and sensuality | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 January 1996 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Gross:

$3,375,000 (USA)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Isaac Hayes (Preacher Hurn) and Richard Roundtree (Uncle Cleve) were both noted for their work on the "Shaft" films; Roundtree portraying the titular character and Hayes writing and recording the infamous theme song. The song included the popular catch phrase "Shut yo' mouth!" Hayes used this name line in character when Melvin was exclaiming to the older group of gentlemen all the benefits of living up North, he stated that Colored men even drive buses. I disbelief, Preacher Hurn interjected "Shut yo' mouth!" See more »

Quotes

Preacher Hurn: If you call Jesus, his line is never busy.
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Soundtracks

Maybe Tomorrow
Written and Performed by Lionel Cole
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User Reviews

Neither the KKK or Hallmark Card Company
8 May 2006 | by (Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.) – See all my reviews

"Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored" (1996): Set in the deep American South, over the years 1946-1962, and told as biography, this is the story of one boy's memories of being raised in the Cotton & Bible Belt. He's poor, his family is in pieces, he's Black, he's surrounded by the KKK…and yet, this is a soft, even soft-focus look back at the people who DID provide community family, did not dwell on their poverty nor make their race the focal point of a normal day. We are so accustomed to angry, relentlessly violent films about the racial divides, this film could easily be taken as a Hallmark Card presentation…but SOMETHING about it tells me otherwise. Yes, problems are depicted, and yes, the times they were a-changin', but not as fast or dramatically as we've come to accept from the quick flip of a few pages in history class. I LIKE the pace of this film. It's slow, warm, often funny, occasionally sugary, sometimes sad or maddening, but for the most part it's a nostalgic look back at the GOOD parts of black author's childhood.


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