7.3/10
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7 user 2 critic

Classified X (1998)

A history of the racially stereotyped portrayal of African Americans in cinema.

Director:

Mark Daniels
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Cast

Credited cast:
Melvin Van Peebles ... Himself / Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Margaret Barker Margaret Barker ... Herself (archive footage)
Joanna Barnes ... Herself (archive footage)
Ethel Barrymore ... Herself (archive footage)
Harry Belafonte ... Himself (archive footage)
Ingrid Bergman ... Herself (archive footage)
David Brian ... Himself (archive footage)
Lloyd Bridges ... Himself (archive footage)
Steve Brodie ... Himself (archive footage)
Charles Bronson ... Himself (archive footage)
Jim Brown ... Himself (archive footage)
James Burke ... Himself (archive footage)
Jeff Corey ... Himself (archive footage)
Lou Costello ... Himself (archive footage)
Jeanne Crain ... Herself (archive footage)
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Storyline

A history of the racially stereotyped portrayal of African Americans in cinema.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Explore the representation of African Americans in the history of American cinema through the eyes of Melvin Van Peebles.

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK | France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 March 2007 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Melvin Van Peebles' Classified X See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$65, 18 October 1998

Gross USA:

$65
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Features Captain Blood (1935) See more »

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User Reviews

Good But Black Cinema Needs a Longer, Detailed Doc
29 March 2012 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Classified X (1998)

*** (out of 4)

Melvin Van Peebles hosts and narrates this 50-minute documentary that takes a look at the history of blacks in cinema. I'm going to start off by saying that I really wish someone would come along and make a three, four or even five hour documentary about this subject because there's so much to cover and there's just so little time here that you can't help but feel that so much is missing. Overall, this is a good introduction to the issues that raged in cinema. Of course, THE BIRTH OF A NATION is brought up but the documentary does a good job at noting that this wasn't the first film to show racist images. From here we see how blacks were played by whites, were given roles of maids or slaves and how things started to change after WWII. Again, this documentary is way too short because it often hits on a subject that you wish would be explored more but instead we just jump to the next scene. There are a few issues I did have with the movie including how Melvin Van Peebles said that he never saw anyone playing the maid in his neighborhood so the movies were making this image up. Well, with the recent excellent film THE HELP, we learn that that type of image was going on during these times and I'm guessing Van Peebles' South Chicago neighborhood just didn't have some of these Southern images. The documentary also shines a light on "black cinema" that was going on in the 20s and 30s but it points out that these films too were often full of racist stereotypes. One strange thing is that Sidney Poitier's name never comes up yet the film does slam movies like THE DEFIANT ONES and GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER. We finally get to the blaxploitation pictures, which is showcased as people black artists striking back but throughout the entire documentary there's nothing but talk about equality yet these films were just as racist towards whites that all the other films were against blacks. By the end of the film Van Peebles says that nothing has changed from the start of cinema until today. Everyone in Hollywood are racist and they're the ones with the money and the power to make movies.


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