7.2/10
441
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:

Tim Reid

Writers:

Clifton L. Taulbert (book), Paul W. Cooper (screenplay)
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On Disc

at Amazon

2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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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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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

Gross USA:

$3,375,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

7 years prior to this film, Bernie Casey (Mr. Walter) And Isaac Hayes (Preacher Hurn) acted together in the Keenen Ivory Wayans comedy, "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka." 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

A special film, heartfelt, soft spoken.
4 March 1999 | by Doctor_BombaySee all my reviews

Tim Reid has not been ‘that guy from WKRP' for some time now. And no, he wasn't Isaac on The Love Boat either. He still finds himself in too many schlocky TV movies, and weak situation comedies. One must pay the rent, and no one can argue with that.

More and more a champion of black film, he has been careful, deliberate in his choice of projects. Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, elevates him, appropriately, as a serious filmmaker, black, white, or otherwise.

This is not a ‘new' film, but it is a different approach. An insightful look into Afro-American existence during turbulent times, the focus is on the community, rather than the oppression, the individuals rather than the cause. The result is every bit as effective in getting the message across. ‘You get more flies with honey…'

Al Freeman Jr. gets a well-deserved opportunity to show that he's not just some kind of TV Morgan Freeman. His portrayal of Poppa, the family patriarch is wonderful and slighted unfortunately by the Academy. Even the Image awards overlooked him, preferring to bestow honor on the over-cooked and under-talented Phylicia Rashad, one of the only weak links in this strong cast. Bernie Casey and Richard Roundtree both play well against their macho-type.

Don't expect to be hit over the head with the ideas of this film. Just let it ease you on down the road, and, take a look around, every so often as you do.


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