Monday, February 28, 2011

Heroes Of Blaxploitation: Ossie Davis

Day Twenty-eight:

A month of Blaxploitation has come to a close. Why not end it with the man who basically started it all?

Ossie Davis (1917-2005) is not immediately synonymous with the world of Blaxploitation. Ossie has the distinction of not only being one of the most respected Black actors of all time, but also the occasional filmmaker, poet, playwright activist and general great human being. His acting career spanned over seven decades, and along with wife Ruby Dee, he avoided the typecast of most black actors of the time, and escaped with a great dignity and pride.

Ossie Davis The Filmmaker began with the movie that helped kick-start the Blaxploitation genre, even before Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback or Gordon Parks' Shaft. Cotton Comes To Harlem (1970) will go down on my record as one of the very first and best of the Blaxploitation genre. A great, entertaining film with excellent music. A must if you haven't seen it.

Up next for Ossie was Kongi's Harvest (1970) and then the Blaxploitation films Black Girl (1972) and another movie I recommend from the genre: Gordon's War (1973) starring Paul Winfield in the title role.

As a Director, Ossie would go on to make 2 more films:  Cool Red (AKA: Countdown At Kusini) (1976) and the little known Crown Dick (1987) which was made for Television. As a writer, Ossie worked on such projects for television as: Gone Are The Days (1963), Purlie (1981) and For Us The Living: The Medgar Evers Story (1983). And of course as an actor had a wonderful, flouring career in many types of roles. I especially enjoyed his parts in Slaves (1969), Teacher, Teacher (1969),  The Sheriff (1971), Let's Do It Again (1975), Avenging Angel (1985), Do The Right Thing (1989), his funny and moving performance in the great Don Coscarelli film Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) and his brief role in the Blaxploitation call-back Baadasssss! (2003).

Ossie Davis was god.


The Goodkind said...

Well done sir, Davis is one of my favorites, and Cotton Comes to Harlem is an excellent example of his work. It's one of the few non-exploitive blaxploitation films of its time.

Cinema Du Meep said...

Thanks The Goodkind!

So true. Ossie always did it with class, didn't he? Loved that guy.

TheGirlWhoLovesHorror said...

Love Ossie Davis! Never knew he directed and wrote movies too! He was so hilarious in Bubba Ho-tep, I'll have to pull that one off the shelf again soon.

Cinema Du Meep said...

Love Bubba HoTep. Excellent choice, The Girl!

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