Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored (1995)

Television actor Tim Reid makes his directorial debut in this 
pleasant, but s-l-o-w story of a black baby born in the cotton 
fields of 1946 Mississippi.  Reid has created a gentle giant of  
period detail that deserves praise for, among other things, such 
remarkable restraint.  (There's no gratuitous racism or violence, 
here.  Given the potentially incendiary nature of the subject 
material, I call that an accomplishment.)  Some have labeled this 
film as "sanitized," which I don't agree with.  ONCE UPON A TIME... 
is very real and, unfortunately, very slow.  The lack of narrative 
focus makes for a particularly long sit.  Stick with it, though, 
and the second hour gets (a bit) better.  Filmed in North Carolina, 
from the book by Clifton L. Taulbert, and with the exceptional cast 
of Al Freeman Jr., Phylicia Rashad, Leon, Paula Kelly, Bernie 
Casey, Isaac Hayes, Polly Bergen, Taj Mahal, Richard Roundtree, and 
many others.  (Rated "PG"/115 min.)

Grade: C+

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: April 21, 1996

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