It's Black Entertainment [Import]
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A star-studded tribute (from the creators of That's Entertainment) to the contributions of Afro-Americans in film over the last century. Vanessa Williams traces the struggles and triumphs of the superstars of music and film. Among the many artists featured are: Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Cab Calloway, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald, and Little Richard, Also included are today's contemporary superstars: Snoop Dogg, Ice T, Quincy Jones, Spike Lee, Russell Simmons, and many, more! 80 minutes plus DVD bonus features.
There weren't many African American faces when MGM trotted out the pastiche of its own musical glory, 1974's That's Entertainment! That fact is redressed in dazzling fashion in this compilation video, originally broadcast on Showtime. Hosted by Vanessa Williams, the retrospective is broken up into several categories: dancers, divas, rock and soul, jazz and swing, male singers, and hip-hop. With an 80-minute running time, it's hardly comprehensive, but what it includes is choice. Most dazzling is a section on tap dancers, with amazing footage of relatively unknown (at least in the mainstream) performers like Stump & Stumpy and Earl "Snakehips" Tucker. It's easy to quibble about people who are included (Diana Ross over Etta James?) or excluded (Ray Charles? Chuck Berry?), but it's hard to ignore the terrific old footage or the cogent commentary by observers such as Jamie Foxx, Quincy Jones, and Debbie Allen. --Marshall Fine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Unfortunately, after that, this documentary runs into trouble--and fast. From the very beginning we see little more than remarkably short clips of the best of the best performing in movies and live on stage. You get great clips of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, people breakdancing, The Nicholas Brothers' amazing dancing in Stormy Weather, Eartha Kitt dancing and singing and so much more as well. However, the word "clips" is the word that best describes what you're going to see when you watch this Showtime documentary. The film clips are simply too short; and the program attempts to cover too much ground too quickly.
For example, the 80 minute program is divided into six segments: The Dancers, The Divas, Rock & Soul, Jazz & Swing, Male Singers and Hip Hop. That's too much ground to cover in just 80 minutes. Unfortunately, therefore, the producers fail to give us an in-depth look at what black Americans REALLY did contribute to the entertainment industry. Yes, the footage they show you is wonderful; the quality of the footage is usually rather good for its age and you experience a wonderful feeling when you watch this historic footage. But how much can anybody say about black entertainment when the Jazz & Swing segment is a mere seven minutes?
The DVD comes with few extras; and what you get is more of the same--great performances pre-packaged into tiny 60 second mini segments. The image quality isn't as good as the footage in the actual documentary but the performances strike you with awe just the same. Unfortunately, this seven minute bonus feature again does little more than scratch the surface once again.
The footage you do get easily deserves five stars; but there's too much chopping up of this precious footage. They also try to cover too much ground in too short a time. Unfortunately, I must take off two stars to make this a three star review.
I recommend It's Black Entertainment mainly for persons who will be satisfied with just a cursory introduction to black entertainment. People who want to truly study the fine contributions of African Americans to the entertainment world will do best to skip over this one and look elsewhere for a better documentary with much more extensive footage and longer interviews.
needs to know the pioneers of the culture which has been
copied multiple times, throughout the world.
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