7.0/10
470
9 user 8 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:

Tim Reid

Writers:

Clifton L. Taulbert (book), Paul W. Cooper (screenplay)
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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Freeman Jr. ... Poppa
Phylicia Rashad ... Ma Ponk
Leon ... Uncle Melvin
Paula Kelly ... Ma Pearl
Salli Richardson-Whitfield ... Miss Alice (as Salli Richardson)
Anna Maria Horsford ... Miss Annie
Bernie Casey ... Mr. Walter
Isaac Hayes ... Preacher Hurn
Ray J ... Cliff (12 Yrs.) (as Willis Norwood Jr.)
Karen Malina White ... Mary
Damon Hines Damon Hines ... Cliff at 16
Iona Morris ... Nila Fontaine
Phill Lewis ... Sammy (19 Yrs.) / Narrator
Taj Mahal ... Mr. Will
Polly Bergen ... 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Melvin tells the group of elders all the benefits of living up North, he says that Colored men even drive buses. Preacher Hurn replies "Shut yo' mouth!" Isaac Hayes wrote the theme to Shaft (1971), and Richard Roundtree played the titular character. See more »

Quotes

narrator: Everyone clung to the idea that if you worked hard, you get a piece of the American dream.
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Soundtracks

Maybe Tomorrow
Written and Performed by Lionel Cole
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User Reviews

 
Upon a time
29 March 2009 | by wordsmith_57See all my reviews

I kept waiting for the bad moments to happen, as so often they do in these reminiscent movies of growing up in the south, yet no real drama occurred. These were moments pieced together, and if that was the intent--it worked. True, a child's reflection of childhood would be pieces of memory chained loosely together, impressions of events, people, and times. However, when the movie ended I thought, "That's it?" There were fine performances; however, the plot seemed to soft-step around the real issues, such as the Jim Crow laws, segregated schooling, subservient wages, and escaping to the north to avoid the subjugation. We got breadth, when depth might have made a much more interesting plot line.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 January 1996 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$75,675, 28 January 1996

Gross USA:

$2,291,255

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,291,255
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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