From Green Pastures to Hoodz
Black City Cinema
African American Urban Experiences in Film
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Paula J. Massood
In Black City Cinema, Paula Massood shows how popular films reflected the massive social changes that resulted from the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to cities in the North, West, and Mid-West during the first three decades of the twentieth century. By the onset of the Depression, the Black population had become primarily urban, transforming individual lives as well as urban experience and culture.
Massood probes into the relationship of place and time, showing how urban settings became an intrinsic element of African American film as Black people became more firmly rooted in urban spaces and more visible as historical and political subjects. Illuminating the intersections of film, history, politics, and urban discourse, she considers the chief genres of African American and Hollywood narrative film: the black cast musicals of the 1920s and the "race" films of the early sound era to blaxploitation and hood films, as well as the work of Spike Lee toward the end of the century. As it examines such a wide range of films over much of the twentieth century, this book offers a unique map of Black representations in film.
"Massood's interpretive discussions of the films are clearly written and convincing; she makes an important original point about the ending of Do the Right Thing, probably the most discussed African American filmand endingof all time. She illuminates many other films, about which she writes with easy familiarity and complete authority."
"[Massood] supplies a new and very rich way of looking at and analyzing the films that she discusses. Highly recommended for academic libraries and large public libraries with a strong film or African American collection."
"Thanks to Massood's lively writing style, Black City Cinema is a good read. It is also an important contribution to the field of film studies."
"...emerges as an important resource... [it] is an engaging read, pulling together its various strands of analysis in incisive prose."
"Black City Cinema stands as an original, important contribution to black cinema's building theoretical and critical discourse."
"Examines how African Americans and the urban environment have been portrayed in films since the 1920s."
1. The Antebellum Idyll and Hollywood's Black-Cast Musicals
2. Harlem is Heaven: City Motifs in Race Films from the Early Sound Era
3. Cotton in the City: The Black Ghetto, Blaxploitation, and Beyond
4. Welcome to Crooklyn: Spike Lee and the Rearticulation of the Black Urbanscape
5. Out of the Ghetto, into the Hood: Changes in the Construction of Black City Cinema
6. Taking the A-Train: the City, the Train, and Migration in Spike Lee's Clockers
Epilogue: New Millennium Minstrel Shows? African American Cinema in the Late 1990s
In the series
Culture and the Moving Image, edited by Robert Sklar.
The Culture and the Moving Image series, edited by Robert Sklar, seeks to publish innovative scholarship and criticism on cinema, television, and the culture of the moving image. The series will emphasize works that view these media in their broad cultural and social frameworks. Its themes will include a global perspective on the world-wide production of images; the links between film, television, and video art; a concern with issues of race, class, and gender; and an engagement with the growing convergence of history and theory in moving image studies.