Cinema Rediscovered: Uptight

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BBFC Ratingf-rated FilmCinema Rediscovered: Uptight

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CertificateNot Rated
GenreDrama, Thriller
Director(s)Jules Dassin
Writer(s)Jules Dassin, Ruby Dee, Julian Mayfield
Running Time1HR 44MINS
SeasonCinema Rediscovered on Tour

Following the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King, Cleveland’s black community is on a knife-edge, wondering who, if anyone, can be trusted.

Having made his name in Hollywood with the taut dramas Brute Force (1947) and The Naked City (1948), director Jules Dassin was blacklisted for his activism and communist sympathies in the early 1950s. Following a number of years based in Europe, where he made the classic heist film Rififi (1955), he returned to the USA and the Paramount studio for this Cleveland set reworking of Liam O’Flaherty’s The Informer, a novel memorably adapted for the screen by John Ford in 1935.

Setting Uptight in the period directly following the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King, Dassin collaborated with the black actors and activists Ruby Dee and Julian Mayfield on a script that situates the action in the city’s black power movement. The urgency of the film’s politics saw Paramount attempt to stifle its production and blunt its message, while the FBI coerced crew members to act as informers.

Unjustly forgotten, today Uptight can be considered an important precursor to the militant black films that emerged from American cinema in the 1970s (also notable for its iconic score, written and performed by Booker T. and the MGs)



Cinema Rediscovered: Claudine

In an attempt to counter the far-fetched excesses of the blaxploitation cycle popular at the time, Claudine focuses on the day to day struggles of a single black mother and her working class family. Restored in 4K.

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