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March 25th will be the 60th anniversary of the death of Oscar Micheaux, the first major African-American film-maker. Within Our Gates and Body and Soul (with Paul Robeson) are his best films, in my opinion. Try to see them if you have not already done so, or if you have---see tham again. My recent book FACES IN THE MIRROR: OSCAR MICHEAUX AND SPIKE LEE compares our two greatest directors.

John Howard

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I've never been a great fan of Spike Lee because I don't think his being a "first" automatically qualifies him for greatness. His black peers of today are every bit as good if not better than he is. I guess I need to read your book, huh? I feel a review coming on.

A while back, a series of Oscar Micheaux's films were run on cable TV channel TCM and watching them, I appreciated their instrinsic value. The acting was usually very stilted but Micheaux somehow was able to capture the essence of the times and establish a mood.

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I despise Oscar Micheaux and his films because of their blatant

COLORISM. They're more insulting than the Hollywood films of that

era if you're a Black woman.

I do like some of Spike Lee's work, but overall, I think Quentin Tarantino

is a far more gifted & relevant filmmaker---Quentin is everything Spike was

SUPPOSED to be.

Without peer...is Senegal's Ousmane Sembene. Easily the greatest BLACK filmmaker

of all time. His films starting with "Black Girl" (1964) to "Xala" to "Guelwaar"

to "Molaade" and "Faat Kine" are astoundingly GREAT. Truly masterpieces.

While others have Jesus Christ....I have Ousmane Sembene. I got to speak with

him by phone to Morocco just before he died. He was almost 90. He wasn't too

pleased with my public image, but was happy that I worshiped him so. Haha.

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I've never been a great fan of Spike Lee because I don't think his being a "first" automatically qualifies him for greatness. His black peers of today are every bit as good if not better than he is. I guess I need to read your book, huh? I feel a review coming on.

I understand your comment that Lee's being "the first" does not, necessarily, make him the best, but could we use this analogy: Jackie Robinson's breakthrough in major league baseball secures his place in history even though Willie Mays, who came in his wake, was without doubt a better player. I would enjoy reading your review of FACES IN THE MIRROR.

A while back, a series of Oscar Micheaux's films were run on cable TV channel TCM and watching them, I appreciated their instrinsic value. The acting was usually very stilted but Micheaux somehow was able to capture the essence of the times and establish a mood.

The acting in Micheaux's silent films is comparable to the acting in Hollywood silent films of the period. Compare BODY AND SOUL to any Hollywood silent film released at that time. The acting in his sound films is inferior to that in major Hollywood studios of the time altough not that differnt than what you would find in Hollwyood poverty row studios (PRC, Monogram,etc) b-movie sound films.

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I despise Oscar Micheaux and his films because of their blatant

COLORISM. They're more insulting than the Hollywood films of that

era if you're a Black woman.

I do like some of Spike Lee's work, but overall, I think Quentin Tarantino

is a far more gifted & relevant filmmaker---Quentin is everything Spike was

SUPPOSED to be.

Without peer...is Senegal's Ousmane Sembene. Easily the greatest BLACK filmmaker

of all time. His films starting with "Black Girl" (1964) to "Xala" to "Guelwaar"

to "Molaade" and "Faat Kine" are astoundingly GREAT. Truly masterpieces.

While others have Jesus Christ....I have Ousmane Sembene. I got to speak with

him by phone to Morocco just before he died. He was almost 90. He wasn't too

pleased with my public image, but was happy that I worshiped him so. Haha.

"Despise" is a very heavy word. To some extent Micheaux reflected his time. The black newspapers that ran adds for his films also ran adds for hair straighteners and skin lighteners. That is unfortunate. I wish it were not so--but it is. I do not despise the blacks who lived in that era. Micheaux reflects the complicated race views of his time. He was, on the one hand, a 'race' man, but on the other, carried with him some of the baggage of his era. But then don't we all--even though the baggage of our era might be different from that of his.

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