Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Fresh New Face in Cinema

Throughout the 1940's race relations between whites and blacks were no better than they were in the antebellum south, in fact many attest to the fact that the jim crow south was exceptionally worse than the institution of slavery. Yet people  began to see a new face in cinema, one that added a bit more color and allure. However, these women were completely different from Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers, and although they were now light-skinned, singing, slim, sultry seductresses, yet they were still unable to transcend racial boundaries. While many might had viewed these women in a more favorable manner because they projected Black women in a positive light, the underlying motives of the white producers, casts, and production companies were in fact still placing them in demeaning roles. It was almost always the case that Black women would play some type of subservient role, essentially shadowing their white counterparts.

One such example was of the illustrious Lena Horne. Horne began her acting career in the late 1930's, but did not become notable until the early 1940's with the movie Cabin in the sky. However, like many Black actors and actresses of the early 20th century, she was not able to pick up a lead role because of the color of her skin. In fact, in several other roles she would be subsequently featured in, her part would be edited out because certain theaters refused to show black actors. The following decade would give rise to a new Hollywood beauty, but would still keep Black actresses from breaking the glass ceiling in terms of the roles they played.

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