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Dustin Putman



Dustin's Review
Native Son (1950)
1 Stars

Directed by Pierre Chenal
Cast: Richard Wright, Jean Wallace, Gloria Madison, Nicholas Joy, Charles Cane, George Rigaud.
1950 – 89 minutes
Rated: [NR]
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, August 15, 1999.

Based on the 1940 book by Richard Wright, the 1951 version of "Native Son" (it was remade in 1986 with a Hollywood cast) had difficulty gaining a distributor because of its "controversial" subject matter, and eventually fell through the cracks. Currently available on video, the film proves that times sure have changed, as its supposed-to-be cutting edge look at the disheartening state of race relations in the 1930s is almost completely undealt with or presented in an effective manner. 25-year-old Bigger Thomas (novelist Wright, taking over the film's lead) is a poor, lower-class black man who gets a job as a chauffeur for a rich white family. When he accidentally kills the intoxicated daughter on his first night of the job, he soon becomes a wanted man. Since the underlying themes about race are so very mild, basically the film becomes a mediocre "man-on-the-run" crime drama without any twists or likably three-dimensional characters to keep your interest. Wright, however, gives a fine debut performance.

© 1999 by Dustin Putman

Dustin Putman