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Revisit 'The Story Of A Three-Day Pass' On Melvin Van Peebles' 80th Birthday (His 1st Feature)

by Malcolm Woodard
August 21, 2012 7:31 PM
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3-day pass

If I may toss in my own little piece of acknowledgement of Melvin Van Peebles' 80th birthday today (see Tambay's post earlier today HERE).

For those who think that Melvin Van Peebles didn't exist before Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, he made 2 feature films before that seminal work.

This is one of them - an exploration of contrasting European and American attitudes towards race, in 1698's The Story of a Three Day Pass.

Taking place in the 60’s, the film centers on an African American soldier stationed in Europe. His Captain gives him a promotion and a three-day pass to take the weekend off, because he thinks he’s such an exceptional black man. And over the course of the 3 days, Turner, the film's protagonist, meets a white French woman, leading to a love affair between the two. However, racial prejudice and other complications, brings the affait to a halt.

Harry Baird and Nicole Berger star.

What is considered Van Peebles' Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) film, it was based on a novel he wrote in French, La Permission. It was shot in 36 days on a budget of $200,000.

The use of fantasy sequences, jump cuts, freeze frames, photo-montage, and other experimental techniques, give the film an surreal/dream-like quality. 

It was Van Peebles' very first feature film, and, it was also the first feature-length film (on record) directed by an African American since Oscar Micheaux's last film, 1948's The Betrayal. So, from 1948 to 1967 (when Three-Day Pass was shot), a 21-year gap, there wasn't a single feature-length, fictional scripted narrative film (on record) with an African American at the helm.

If anyone knows and can prove otherwise, please do so.

I know that William Greaves was working prior to 1968, but he only produced documentaries. 

Before Van Peebles made Three-Day Pass, it's said that he couldn't get work in the film industry in the USA, so, like many other African American artists did in those days, he went to Europe (France, specifically), and directed his first feature (aka The Story Of A Three-Day Pass) in France, with French money.

Cue critical acclaim (both abroad and in the USA) after it was selected for the 1967 San Francisco Film Festival organized by Black film critic Albert Johnson, and eventually Van Peebles landed a job in Hollywood, and then he made his first and only studio film in 1970, Watermelon Man

Here's the trailer for The Story Of A Three-Day Pass (it's incomplete, but there's enough there to give you some idea of what it's like). It's on DVD:

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  • CareyCarey | August 23, 2012 9:56 PMReply

    @ SonOfBaldwin, thanks for your extended hand and your apology is accepted. Now lets get down to the nitty gritty. But first, since we've all been known to wander off to roads untravled, I have to state MY basic points of contentions and then render my opinions accordingly. In order to do that, I'll use the theme "Whose eyes are you looking through?". Now, to fine tune this argument, it behooves me to ask myself and others the following questions. Do you have a prejudice against "this" particular type of films? What affects your reaction to a films (mood, mental attitude, physical condition while watching the film, physical envioronment, etc)? How much do your PERSONAL and HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE responses to particular aspects of a film affect your judgment ( i.e., actors in the film, the film's setting, the director, sexual material, violence, etc,)? Now SonofBaldwin, of course the most optimum words for this debate and/or my argument is "PERSONAL and HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE". To that point, what is a good story? What is a quality film? What qualities of a film makes it "relevant"? Any answers to those questions are bound to be subjective... wouldn't you agree? So, understanding and accepting your joy, love and finer points of Melvin Van Peebles works, which you so eloquently outlined, its time I take you in the world of Tyler Perry (put you up on a little something:-). Okay, here we go. Does American Film shape or reflect social and culural values? I believe it's the latter. Film does not create new truths for society. It CANNOT reshape a society nor person that is not ready for change. Believing that to be true, I am never embarrassed by anything Tyler presents, and I don't understand those feeling in others. How could something on a screen embarrass "me"? Now the question, WHOSE EYES are you looking through? But let me get to the brilliance of Tyler and his films. It goes without question that Tyler audience is comprised of people of color from all walks of life. So he's intelligent enough to understand the roads traveled during the black experience and use them to engage us in his narratives. One of those roads is pain, bondage and misery. Now, what did we do when we where locked in chains or locked in doubt ? What did we do to ease our pain? WE SANG! Yes lord, in the morning and before we went to bed, we sang songs to move our minds and emotional state to another place. On a personal note, I remember when I was locked in my addiction AND locked behind bar -- I sang songs to releive some of my pain, if only for a moment. IT WORKS! Tyler give black folks something they can FEEL. He also brings us some of the best black singers the world has to offer. Speaking of actors, Tyler brings us the best black actors on the market. Heck, I'll rent a movie just to see the performance of one or two particular actors, black or white. Also, going back to the actors in Tyler's movie and how he uses them, unlike many black directors, he does not placate nor kowtow to those who champion the interacial couples theme. No NO, Tyler keeps it simply black, and I love him for that. A black man always kisses on a black woman. Moving on: "I find Tyler Perry's work unfunny, bland, overly-theatrical, poorly made, and simply embarrassing" ~ SonOfBaldwin. Okaaaay, now we're back to the question "Whose Eyes are you looking through?" Of course, in this incidence you're speaking for yourself, regardless of the "influences" that got you there, you own those feelings. Now, this comment is getting very long so let me see if I can bring it to a head. The majority of moviegoers do not have a pen and paper in their hands to write down their analytical viewpoint of a film in question. Movie watching is a subjective and emotional experience. I like to look at it as "What About A Time Called Now?". When I'm sitting in a theater or in my front room when a movie comes on, that's where I am at for that period of time. Without reservation, guilt or shame, if something makes ME laugh... I LAUGH. Now, speaking of "overly-theatrical and melo-dramatic... who said so and SO WHAT? I am suggesting that for many "overly-theatrical and mela-dramatic' is what they're looking for. And Tyler Knows that. Heck, 2 hours ago I watch a movie "Something The Lord Made" starring Alan Rickman, Mos Def and Kyra Sedgwick. Let me tell you, that movie was MELODRAMA MAMMY but it did the damn thang. I am suggesting that regardless of how some critics view or describe Tylers products, he give the black viewer something they can "feel" and relate to. RE: QUALITY. I have an analogy. Whatever gets the job down is all the "quality" I need. If I'm digging a hole to bury my stash of money, I don't care if that shovel is shiny, popular, or the sharpest one in the shed, as long as it digs the damn hole, I'm good to go. In short, film analysis (if that's the play of the day) requires us to repond sensitively to the simultaneous interplay of image, sound and movement on the screen. We must somehow remain almost totally immersed in the EXPERIENCE while we maintain a high degree of critical detachment. If not, we can be dead Fred looking through the wrong eyes.

  • Nadine | August 24, 2012 11:02 AM

    ... a beautiful exchange.

  • CareyCarey | August 24, 2012 9:50 AM

    "Many of my family members love his work, and that can sometimes create conflict when we're discussing other films I happen to like that they don't like, but at the end of the day, my opinion isn't any more valuable than theirs" ~ SonOfBaldwin. I am smiling because although I defend Tyler Perry and enjoy "certain" aspects of his films and deplore others, I'm the film snob of my family and friends. Yep, I'm the one who can't stand a movie if it does not have this-this-or-that, while many within my family could care less if a movie didn't have that-that-OR THAT, and yes, conflict insues... just like a Tyler Perry play :-). That reminds me, speaking of why many blacks enjoy Perry (esp Madea), Madea represents that older woman within our family who is powerful and may be the matriarch or head of the family. There's a myth that all black grandmothers are sweet, understanding, pearl clutching teetotalers who sang church hymns morning, noon and night. The truth is, many had "flaws" that you wouldn't want your children to emulate, but they got FULL respect and they controlled/ran thangs and called shots in the family.... just like Madea. Short story: My mother would tell us, "stay away from your grandma Martin's house (my father's mother) because there's too much stuff going on down there". Heck, we loved going to grandma Martins house because there WAS cussing, drinking and colorful people hanging around :-) and we laughed our asses off; snickering about that person or the person doing that funny dance. And grandma always showed us love. My grandmother has gone home and my father too, but the memories remain. Thanks for the conversation.

  • SonofBaldwin | August 24, 2012 3:12 AM

    Great points, Carey. The key word here is "subjectivity", and in this case, I was wrong for knocking you for liking Tyler Perry's work. You like what you like, just like everyone else. Quality is in the eye of the beholder, and I can understand why most blacks enjoy Perry. Many of my family members love his work, and that can sometimes create conflict when we're discussing other films I happen to like that they don't like, but at the end of the day, my opinion isn't any more valuable than theirs. I'm glad I had this conversation with you, it has opened my eyes.

  • Firebrand | August 22, 2012 1:41 AMReply

    By the way, the Netflix version is incomplete.

  • Nadia | August 21, 2012 11:55 PMReply

    I'm just going to be the one to say it. Melvin Van Peebles is over-rated as a filmmaker and we tend to give him more credit than he deserves. Sweetback was NOT a good movie even though that's the one folks remember him for most. It was timely and struck the right cord at the right time, but it's not a good movie. Story Of A Three-day Pass gets the same side-eye from me. The one film he did that was actually decent is the one that gets the least attention. Watermelon Man is by far his best movie, and it's not even great. It's cool. I liked it. But he hasn't made many films in the first place, so there's not much to compare, contrast or identify any "progress." He's really still ripping the fruits of Sweetback and probably will forever. Now I'm gonna duck to avoid projectiles being directed at me.

  • SonofBaldwin | August 23, 2012 5:50 PM

    Apologies for the condescension and inconsistent points. I won't deny that Peebles made some problematic choices in his films and that they aren't for everyone, and I can imagine that looking at his work from a woman's point of view would be very difficult for the content alone. Carey, you're right, it's only fair that you're allowed to explain why you admire and can relate to Perry's work since I brought him into this discussion and compared his work to Peebles'. My hostile comments towards you were uncalled for and I'm happy we can come to an understanding. Since people mentioned "The Spook Who Sat by the Door", I'll go ahead and say that I also prefer that film over Sweetback, but I still think Sweetback is a great film in its own right, even overlooking its impact and significance. I just love its crazy, unique, and over-the-top style, and on my second viewing, I admired it much more than when I watched it the first time. I feel that Sweetback's victory at the end of the film didn't just represent a victory for black males, but ALL black people.

  • Nadine | August 23, 2012 3:09 PM

    "Now I'm gonna duck to avoid projectiles being directed at me." - Nadia - I also don't want the same to be true for @SofB. I get SOME of his points, but for me, the blind eye turned to Peebles' problematic choices that he championed in his films is insulting. That a hero could rape a woman at knifepoint and still be a hero. That Van Peebles, when asked how to finance films, his advice was to "put some chicks on a block". Let Peebles' be your hero, as he is the hero to many Black men in the industry, but he was a disaster as a human being and a man... and that matters.

  • CareyCarey | August 23, 2012 2:36 PM

    @SonofBaldwin, I am glad to meet you. I mean, I glad to see that there's an actual person behind those villainous words you lay at my feet. And I have to say this -- man to man -- you did a great job of supporting your opinion. Yeah, it hurts me to say that but I gotta give you your props. You gotta a lil'sumtin' sumtin' in the skills catagory. But listen, you got your thang off; writing 3 nice comments supporting your views, but preceeded your opinions with the following "handcuffs": "Carey, I'd be happy to discuss this with you if you leave your Tyler Perry biasedness at the front door. :) Now, obviously we have completely different tastes because I find Tyler Perry's work unfunny, bland, overly-theatrical, poorly made, and simply embarrassing". Now come on man, how are you going to ask me to refrain from mentioning why I and millions of others can "relate" and find pleasure in Tyler's works, while you use him as a springboard of comparison? No no no Mr. SonOfBaldwin, you know that's not any kind of right... but nice try. I mean seriously, in your defense and review of Peebles, you supported your opinion by mentioning what the actors in his films did for YOU. You also made comparisons of other films (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner & The Color Purple & Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X) and how Peebles films (closer to the truth) -- in your opinion -- did a better job of capturing the essence of the core message of said films. So without question, it behooves me, or don't you think it's fair that I make similar comparisons? Check game, aside from the "messages" you received, you spoke of the actors and what they gave YOU. You also mentioned a " quality score". And... in championing Mr. Peebles... **drum roll** you said this --> "black film makers were not usually offered money to make movies". Now come on maan, although Nadine did a great job of pointing out some of your "inconsistencies" don't you believe it's not only fair, but in order for me to defend my preferences/opinions/positions on Tyler Perry (or any film) and Mr. Peeble' work, that I be afforded the same "tools"? I am only asking because if I mention Tyler's name I don't want you to come back and call me one of those "lawn jockey" names *LOL*. Yeah, that reminds me, what's up with that?

  • BluTopaz | August 23, 2012 9:15 AM

    @ NADINE--Thanks for bringing that up. SonofB's namesake would definitely be disgusted; and not just because it's "pussy" Peebles' character got to claim. Now watch him throw Giovanni's Room in the mix as a defense.

  • Agent K | August 23, 2012 9:04 AM

    I say The Spook Who Sat By the Door was far superior at its time and still is today. At least the main character Dan Freeman had an objective that would benefit African-Americans across the States. But Sweetback? Not so much. I cannot be convinced that one black guy ranting about "the white man's foot in his ass" or using his sexual prowess with a woman to escape danger is revolutionary or helps black people as a whole. From the immortal words of Lerone Burnett it's "emancipation orgasm".

  • Nadine | August 23, 2012 7:48 AM

    All that to say, I still try to appreciate Peebles' work. I just think people should have the freedom to respectfully disagree.

  • Nadine | August 23, 2012 7:46 AM

    @SofB - "Also, to you and the others, please leave your racial biasedness at the door as well, I don't want to hear any racist comments along the lines of, 'Who cares about a film where a black man loses his job for a white woman?' That's just idiotic, close-minded thinking, and the type of comment I would expect from a ghetto black person with no sense of respect or intelligence." - SofB - Based on your statement, one cannot expect you to see past your own biases greatly evident in your "attempt" to put "others" in their racial place, "ghetto black" and "no intelligence"... Is that how systemic racism works? Few resources are made available to the stupid people, who just happen to be a majority people of color? @SonofBaldwin, though a small piece of your statement, your classism is blinding you to the fact that your statement is ironic. Maybe some don't want to be a party to your apparent "misogynistic bias" either, something Peebles suffered GREATLY from, but women of color, admittedly, ignored in order to support his work given the atmosphere and the time. Others may LEGITIMATELY have issues with Peebles technique, from storytelling , to editing, to deifying despite great moral flaws in the treatment of their partners, but it is easier to throw racial tropes out there in Peebles' defense. You want to seem so clear on your analysis of Peebles' work, yet you choose to resort to the racist bs in the zeitgeist... and it is people like you who want to ignore certain aspects of these films that resonate with you only because of what the film "does" for you, personally, or for the ego of your "limited" group with an inability to look through the lens of "others" (as they are inconsequential) which then, I guess, led you to take jabs at the Color Purple. Please do. It further shows your limited "field of view" and your biases that you seem to have no patience for from others. BTW - if your are referencing James Baldwin in your screenname, do you think this great thinker would not have had issues with Peebles work regarding the very same issues that some on this board are lightly traversing? Knowing Baldwin as we do, do you think he had a selective lens when it came to discrimination amongst and within groups? I'm just saying... I understand your support of Peebles, but it is possible that his work not resonating with someone does not, a fool, make them and that others may have another point of view worth examining. Peebles' "messages" outside of the Black man overcoming all (as messy as that could be), were often problematic... people have a right to examine that.

  • SonofBaldwin | August 23, 2012 2:13 AM

    Also, whoever left disparaging remarks about "Watermelon Man" saying it should've been a skit instead obviously didn't watch the film thoroughly enough. "Watermelon Man" is one of the most honest and truthful films about race relations in America, rivaling the likes of "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X". Even if you didn't find it funny, surely you should've been able to notice how sad and on-point it was, thematically. The ending is truly illuminating because Jeff Gerber went from chastising rioting blacks, to becoming militant himself, and joining a militia in their training. I guess if you push anyone hard enough, they eventually push back. A stark reality brought into a film, that was absurd throughout. Still one of my favorite films about race in America. Brilliant, powerful film.

  • SonofBaldwin | August 23, 2012 2:03 AM

    I'm going to go ahead and post my own review for the film to further support my opinion, and Firebrand was right, it's easily one of the best films of black cinema, and certainly a lot better than overrated, sappy, melodramatic fare like "The Color Purple", which is the most manipulative film I've ever seen. "Story of a Three Day Pass" has far more subtlety and restraint, and it reflects reality a lot better than Spielberg tripe. "The Story of a Three-Day Pass" is Van Peebles' first full-length film and it really helped me appreciate the film more by watching the introduction that comes on the DVD. Van Peebles explains how he made the film in France and the movie was accepted to a film festival in California--where the film was welcomed by the same people that NEVER would have allowed him to make this film! Talk about irony. Much of this was because black film makers were not usually offered money to make movies. And, even if this WOULD have happened in the 1960s, it's HIGHLY unlikely that they would have given him a movie where the plot involves an interracial romance between a black American soldier and a white French woman! It's a shame, as it is a terrific little film.

    As the film was made in France, pickings for the leading role were naturally thin. So Van Peebles selected Harry Baird (who was born in Guyana and lived in Britain) for the lead. Yes, his accent isn't quite right--but I could make an allowance for that. And Baird did do a nice job--playing a man who has to tread the difficult path between playing the system and being a 'nice negro' and be proud. As for the female lead, Nicole Berger is sweet as the French woman who can see the man in Baird...period. Their romance is very sweet they meet and then spend a weekend together. However, Baird's character is in the US Army--and when his fellow white soldiers see him fraternizing with a white woman, his pending promotion is definitely at risk as racism is still alive and well in American culture in 1968 and such happenings were NOT tolerated.

    Despite the low budget and a few minor rough spots, I was super-impressed by this movie. It looked very professional and sounded it as well--on par with other French films of the time, even though it was made by a man with hardly any experience. The leads also were terrific and very likable--so much that you really are pulling for them throughout the film. And, on top of all this, the film had a great message. As a result, I am giving the film a 9--as compared to other low-budget films, it's head and shoulders better.

    A few of the many wonderful scenes to look for in the film is the standing at the Spanish restaurant when Baird's character thinks the man is hurling a racial insult at him, when the black ladies' group comes to visit the base as well as the love scenes. Wow...what a film.

    By the way, in a nod to French sensibilities at the time, it's not surprising that the characters were very sexual in the film (though compared to "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" the nudity and sexuality is VERY muted and fits with the story). But parents might want to think twice about having younger kids see this or at least reinforce the old expression "Kids: don't try this at home".

  • SonofBaldwin | August 23, 2012 1:57 AM

    Carey, I'd be happy to discuss this with you if you leave your Tyler Perry biasedness at the front door. :) Now, obviously we have completely different tastes because I find Tyler Perry's work unfunny, bland, overly-theatrical, poorly made, and simply embarrassing. "Story of a Three-Day Pass", on the other hand, is what I would call a great artistic achievement. You don't have to like the subject matter to be able to appreciate all the other qualities the film has. "Story of a Three-Day Pass" is beautifully shot, it has a quality score, the characters are interesting (to me at least), their romance is beautifully realized and much closer to the truth than the likes of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", the movie cleverly showed how extreme the consequences of interracial marriage were without being cheesy, depressing, etc, and the movie is simply a great joy to watch. It has the sort of atmosphere that sucks me in every time I watch it, and since it sort of floats around freely like "Sweetback", it constantly feels fresh throughout. I also liked how the film didn't take itself too seriously to the point where it was dry and boring, and I quite liked the main actor a lot, and I feel that the actress who played his lover also did a fine job. The ending in particular rang so true for the time and still rings true to this very day, because most brothers never truly get to keep the white pussy they attempt to claim, and Van Peebles cleverly showed that, among many other things. Just in case you didn't know, the film is semi-autobiographical too. Also, to you and the others, please leave your racial biasedness at the door as well, I don't want to hear any racist comments along the lines of, "Who cares about a film where a black man loses his job for a white woman?" That's just idiotic, close-minded thinking, and the type of comment I would expect from a ghetto black person with no sense of respect or intelligence.

  • Laura | August 23, 2012 12:21 AM

    Um, let me join in the mutiny. As a young revolutionary sister in college studying film and Black studies back in the days, I tried Sweetback. I mean I really tried. I did not want to have my Black card revoked so I never expressed how I thought the film was God Awful. I didn't get it. I was bored. It didn't help that I saw the film after I checked out "A Clockwork Orange". That isht BLEW my mind. But I said hey. It's hard for Blacks to make a film. And this was about good it would have gotten when Van Peebles made the film during his time. But I wasn't feeling it. The same with Putney Swope. I didn't think it was a great as the people said it was. I commend the brother for breaking the color barrier and not asking for permission. But The Spook Who Sat by the Door" was a far superior film. But I guess it's a (Black) guy thing. You know the "dick" thing, and using it as a weapon of liberation. I guess having a punany made me blind to the power of the "dick". But any ways... Yeah wasn't feeling that film, but I did and still do admire and respect Van Peebles.

  • CareyCarey | August 22, 2012 9:19 PM

    ...jokes "ensued"

  • CareyCarey | August 22, 2012 9:15 PM

    @Blutopaz, not only did Son Of Baldwin not address it's finer points, check out this ambiguous purple prose--> "I greatly admire the mood, style, and atmosphere of the film, as well as how well it captured a certain perspective of a certain time and place, and at the same time, it kept me engaged from beginning to end" WHAT? And that's why it's one of the best films of black cinema? Yeaah, riiight. RE: Watermelon Man, I actually just watched it about a month ago and you're right... he was white... went to bed and woke up black. The stereotypical stale race jokes ensured... movie over... 30 minutes MAX. Chuckle-chuckle, the white man got a taste of his own medicine. Geez, that does not constitute a "great" film nor great filmmaking. LMAO @ "Sweetback to me is like an ugly baby movie". Stop it... that's the line of the week, don't talk about NOBODIES ugly baby... dem fightin' words *LOL*

  • BluTopaz | August 22, 2012 8:31 PM

    Nadia has started a mutiny up in this piece-. @CAREY---yeah, Sweetback to me is like an ugly baby movie. No one ever wants to say what a rambling, convoluted mess it is because we're supposed to be proud of Peebles' accomplishments. And I noticed where Son of Baldwin did not offer any of Story of a Three Day Pass's fine points, either. And that's what I mean, folks like to raise their fists when talking about his work, but never say exactly what it is about a certain film that raises it to brilliance level. And yeah, Watermelon Man--i googled it after reading this and remembered I got through about 20 minutes of it a few years back-- Godfrey with gold medal white flour on his face, passing as a suburban White man waking up Black--ooh how clever. I get it was satire, etc but it was like a skit that went on for too long. Twilight Zone approached that concept much better in a half hour episode. @NADINE--That list would be men considered to be Black revolutionaries -lol!!

  • Nadine | August 22, 2012 7:21 PM

    @Nadia, Bluto, CC... I feel ya'... although I try to be forgiving of emerging concepts given the time period. I get you Nadia... @Bluto... yes, a cringe-worthy list MUST be created.

  • CareyCarey | August 22, 2012 6:59 PM

    Coon King... that's a new one. But listen sunshine, we can debate the finer issues of both Tyler's & Melvin's body of work (i.e. importance, significance, quality, etc.) but you have to promise that you'll act like you have some damn sense. In the interim, I didn't say I hated "this" film. I believe I said "I didn't like the movie one bit - period ...Nope, not the acting, the dialog, the message, nor the main character's love affair would I shout about.". So Son Of Sam, do you really want to any of those finer -- infinitely superior -- points of Story Of A Three-Day Pass? I mean, surely you're not referring to non-funny Watermelon Man's black man,Godfrey Cambridge, who btw, opens the movie in "whiteface". Yeah, caked on white pasty looking WHITEFACE paint was all over that negros face. C'mon son, let's talk about superior.

  • SonofBaldwin | August 22, 2012 6:27 PM

    Oh, and just like your boy said in response to Spike Lee, "You can print that".

  • SonofBaldwin | August 22, 2012 6:25 PM

    Carey, it's truly ironic how you hate this film while praising and defending Tyler Perry's rubbish when the work of Van Peebles is infinitely superior on every level, as well as far more important and significant. I think it's best that you shut your ignorant trap, coon king.

  • CareyCarey | August 22, 2012 3:18 PM

    Thank you Nadia and Blutopaz. That's the beauty of this site; some folks have the courage and insight to say what might get them ostracized from the "popular" and loudest voices of this blog. "Sweetback is a dated novelty" . HELLO! Say it loud and say it right! "Sweetback was NOT a good movie even though that's the one folks remember him for most. It was timely and struck the right cord at the right time, but it's not a good movie. Story Of A Three-day Pass gets the same side-eye from me". HELLO AGAIN! Side-eye and "eyebrow raised" from me too. "re: Three Day Pass, I wonder if there is a list of films/ literature by Black filmmakers in the 1960's-70's where they either lost their minds or their freedom over White women" LOOK OUT NOW... you're really starting to hurt them, Blutopz. You know some folks can't stand the truth.

  • BluTopaz | August 22, 2012 11:14 AM

    meant to add, re: Three Day Pass, I wonder if there is a list of films/ literature by Black filmmakers in the 1960's-70's where they either lost their minds or their freedom over White women

  • BluTopaz | August 22, 2012 11:09 AM

    I'm glad Nadia said it. One thing I don't understand about Peebles; (besides the fact that he was The Only One at one time)--what exactly is so compelling about Sweetback? I often hear people praise the general IDEA of Sweetback: it was the beginning of blaxploitation, his use of various editing styles that were new at the time, he escaped from The Man, etc. But I never hear its fans praise or even dissect actual scenes from the movie. When we think about all the great anti-establishment films from that era, how does Sweetback compare. I truly see why William Greaves' Symbiopsychotaxiplasm is still relevant in 2012. imho Sweetback is a dated novelty, ironically Mario's Baadassss was more entertaining to me.

  • Priss | August 22, 2012 10:15 AM

    Nadia, your haughty disrespect is what gets the side-eye. You're suspect. Malcolm, thanks for the post. This is the kind of post that makes me quite love this site. I wasn't aware of "the gap." Pretty amazing fact.

  • Firebrand | August 22, 2012 1:56 AM

    I respectfully disagree. I find Sweetback and Story of a Three-Day Pass not only legitimately good films, but legitimately GREAT films. Then again, I'm a pretty open-minded viewer when it comes to film. Even if you overlook the significance of said films, it's not hard to notice the thought and care put into each of them. Sweetback was one of the very first black avante-garde films, and its style is compelling, disorienting, and brilliant in equal measure. It is not made like every other film, it has its own voice and style, and it's no wonder it started an entire movement (blaxploitation cinema). The film itself has a great sense of humor, it's intense, thought provoking, and the cinematography is appropriately raw and gritty. It feels like a documentary of one black man's struggle to overcome "The Man", and it succeeds in a lot more ways than one in my opinion. As for the other film, I wrote my brief thoughts on it below. I don't expect many to agree with my love for these films, but that's part of the fun. Watermelon Man was indeed very impressive as well, but I prefer some of his other work. Check out "Don't Play Us Cheap" if you haven't already.

  • Firebrand | August 21, 2012 10:59 PMReply

    One of the best films of black cinema.

  • Firebrand | August 22, 2012 1:49 AM

    @ Wow- First off, save the condescending tone. Secondly, I don't see how it matters if you didn't seen this film on many "best of black cinema" lists. There's a lot of great black films you won't see on such a list, because most of the great black films are obscure and/or impossible to find, which this film was for quite a while. As for why I think it's one of the best films of black cinema, I greatly admire the mood, style, and atmosphere of the film, as well as how well it captured a certain perspective of a certain time and place, and at the same time, it kept me engaged from beginning to end. I also liked how it never delved into melodrama like too many black films tend to, and it had a fine sense of humor. It's my favorite film from Melvin Van Peebles alongside Sweetback.

  • WOW | August 21, 2012 11:17 PM

    WOW! Are you sure about that - really? One of the best at WHAT? And how long is your "best" list? Surely you list gotsta be over 100 because this film is not on the many "best" of black cinema list that I've seen. Anyway, what elements/features of the film lead you to that conclusion?

  • CareyCarey | August 21, 2012 10:25 PMReply

    I didn't like the movie one bit - period. I watched the movie out of curiousity. Melvin was in the Air force and so was I, and this movie centered on an African American soldier stationed in Europe (just a little sumtin' sumtin' to draw me in. Anyway, I was also curious to see what movie(s) lead to Mr. Peebles getting the funding for "Sweetback?". Anyway, there was nothing about "The Story Of A Three Day Pass" that I would champion. Nope, not the acting, the dialog, the "message", nor the main character's love affair would I shout about. In fact, I believe I didn't even make it to the end of the movie. It was that Blah.

  • Terence | August 21, 2012 9:16 PMReply

    Wow that looks amazing

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