Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Did 'Selma' Do at the Box Office on Its First Day in Release? How Did 'Selma' Do at the Box Office on Its First Day in Release? Marathon of New High-Definition Re-Mastering of 'The Wire' (Full Series) Starts Today on HBO Marathon of New High-Definition Re-Mastering of 'The Wire' (Full Series) Starts Today on HBO Egypt & Morocco Ban Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' for Historical Inaccuracies Egypt & Morocco Ban Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' for Historical Inaccuracies Denzel Washington Is One of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Stars, According to Forbes Denzel Washington Is One of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Stars, According to Forbes Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Kickstart This: A Film About a 150 Year-Old Black Vampire With Suicidal Urges Kickstart This: A Film About a 150 Year-Old Black Vampire With Suicidal Urges Weekend B.O. Dec. 19-21 (Sony's Grateful for Small Blessings, while Paramount Blew it) Weekend B.O. Dec. 19-21 (Sony's Grateful for Small Blessings, while Paramount Blew it) Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Preview: Jessica Williams of 'The Daily Show' Makes Leading Lady Debut in 'Tap Shoes & Violins' Preview: Jessica Williams of 'The Daily Show' Makes Leading Lady Debut in 'Tap Shoes & Violins' First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To This Year, 2013 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To This Year, 2013 Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Black Con Men/Women On Film (Survey)

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 2, 2012 at 11:45AM

Inspired by my rewatching Wendell B Harris Jr's Chameleon Street earlier (still from a scene above)... I thought about other films that centered around black men (or women) who, using primarily their intellect and wit, con their way into what we could deem white Americana, and do so successfully... mostly anyway; near perfect cons of the white-collar variety.
2
Chameleon Street

Inspired by my rewatching Wendell B Harris Jr's Chameleon Street earlier (still from a scene above)... I thought about other films that centered around black men (or women) who, using primarily their intellect and wit, con their way into what we could deem white Americana, and do so successfully... mostly anyway; near perfect cons of the white-collar variety.

I couldn't think of many others. I was almost immediately reminded of Will Smith in 6 Degrees of Separation, based on a play of the same name, about a charismatic, young, gay black man who cons his way into the homes of several of New York’s elite – all of them white – using, much like Douglas street in Chameleon Street, charm, intelligence, with a little luck on his side, as well as the gullibility of his victims.

His con was a different kind of con than we see in Chameleon Street, but it was a con nonetheless, with some Magical Negro-isms.

The film is really about the wealthy New York art dealer couple, played by Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland, who come to realize the inadequacies in their individual lives, and their life together, thanks in great part to the intrusion, albeit under false pretenses, of the character played by Will Smith, who claims to be Sydney Poitier’s son, and convinces them of this lie, with his vast knowledge of art, music, food, film, and life in general.

It’s probably one of Will Smith’s most complex roles ever, and I think he did a decent job with it, considering how early in his career it was. Though I can only imagine what a younger Jeffrey Wright could have done with the part.

Another film that I thought of was Eddie Murphy in The Distinguished Gentleman, from 1992. In it, he plays a con man who uses the passing of the long time Congressman from his district, who he just happens to share a name with, to get elected to Congress.

So help me out here folks; can you name similarly-themed films starring with black men or women in starring roles, as I outlined in the first paragraph?

A few scenes from Chameleon Street follow below:


Shadow & ActNewsletter