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Strange Fruit (2002)

 -  Documentary  -  May 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 77 users   Metascore: 73/100
Reviews: 5 user | 7 critic | 8 from

In 1937, after seeing a photo depicting the lynching of a black man in the south, Bronx-born high school teacher Abel Meeropol wrote a poem entitled "Strange Fruit" that begins with the ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dorothy Thigpen ...
Narrator (voice)
Himself, Commodore Records (as Milt Gabler)
Farah Jasmine Griffin ...
Herself, writer and educator
C.T. Vivian ...
Himself, reverend and veteran civil rights activist
E.M. 'Woody' Beck ...
Himself, sociologist
Abbey Lincoln ...
Herself, singer and composer
Michael Denning ...
Himself, historian
Amina Baraka ...
Herself, poet and performer
Amiri Baraka ...
Himself, poet and playwright
Bernie Kassoy ...
Himself, retired teacher and visual artist
Henry Foner ...
Himself, retired teacher and union activist
Honey Kassoy ...
Herself, retired teacher and visual artist
Michael Meeropol ...
Himself, adopted son of Abel Meeropol
Robert Meeropol ...
Himself, adopted son of Abel Meeropol (as Robby Meeropol)
Jeffrey Melnick ...
Himself, historian (as Jeff Melnick)


In 1937, after seeing a photo depicting the lynching of a black man in the south, Bronx-born high school teacher Abel Meeropol wrote a poem entitled "Strange Fruit" that begins with the words: "Southern trees bear a strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root." He set the poem to music and a few years later convinced Billy holiday to record it in a legendary heartbreaking performance. Intertwining jazz genealogy, biography, performance footage, and the history of lynching, director Joel Katz fashions a fascinating discovery of the lost story behind a true American classic. Written by Excerpted from Coolidge Corner Theatre Program Update

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Release Date:

May 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Outo hedelmä  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

A Very Compelling Documentary
7 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

While the draw for many would be Billie Holiday's interpretation of this famous song, it is the background stories that make this film so engaging.

This film peels away the popular veneer from the song Billie Holiday once claimed she wrote, revealing many intriguing layers. Not only do we delve into the racism that bore this song, but also the interactions between racism, the early labor movement, McCarthyism, and popular culture. Everywhere this documentary's journey takes us, there are the fearful reactionaries meeting the creative and hopeful artists and activists... All of it brilliantly, patiently intertwined and paced by the filmmaker. So patiently executed in fact, I was led into a mid-film, historically surprising plot twist without a clue it was coming.

Yet, with all this depth and craft, the documentary remains very easy to watch.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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