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
Although the movie was released in 1968,American soldiers based in France was already a thing of the past ,for General De Gaulle left NATO in 1966 ,and the American had to move on.There was a base not far from my house when I was a kid and I remember them quite well.So let's say it takes place around 1965.
The sadly missed Nicole Berger died in a car crash soon after making this movie which must have been her very last (actually she died in 1967).The best scenes are the ones between her and her black co-star .They display spontaneity and their efforts to speak English and French go straight to the heart .Their three days of happiness are almost three days in paradise to the girl who says "seems that I've lived all my life with you" .Some cracks in the mirror appear now and them but racism is kept to the minimum and avoids melodrama .
What is less good is the director's infatuation with the French Nouvelle Vague which expresses in the first and last sequences : some actors overplay (the captain and the black lady) to no avail and Paris is first filmed a la "A Bout De soufflé" .The soldier has even an imaginary Doppelganger who lectures him now and then.
Nice sequences filmed in Etretat,Normandie.And ,unlike Ritt's "Paris Blues" starring Sidney Poitier (1962) or Daves'"Kings go forth" (1959),Van Peebles does not try to fool the audience by showing France as the country where "racism does not exist".
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