Hollywood Black

Hollywood Black
For anyone interested in a book detailing the history of black artists in Hollywood, Hollywood Black by Donald Bogle is a film lover’s dream come true.

Author Donald Bogle did film lovers a big favor by writing Hollywood Black. As an experienced author of many books on entertainment history, Bogle approaches the history of black filmmakers and performers, exploring their work thoughtfully and thoroughly. Make no mistake, there is nothing sugar-coated here, so if you are more inclined toward fiction over fact, this book is not for you.

On the other hand, if you have always felt that your knowledge of film history has been incomplete, Hollywood Black is an excellent resource.

It is filled with an abundance of information regarding films and performances by recognizable names such as Hattie McDaniel, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier, but also details the films and careers of many lesser known artists from the classic era such as Oscar Micheaux, Noble Johnson, Paul Robeson, and the wonderful Nina Mae McKinney.

The book is organized by decades starting with silent movies of the 1920s and ending with modern films of the 21st century. Each chapter highlights the accomplishments by black actors, actresses, and the filmmakers of that period, as well as the challenges they endured.

Additionally, each chapter is sprinkled with film stills, lobby cards, and publicity photos. The photos are excellent and high quality, some in brilliant color. Others are haunting, such as the photo of Evelyn Preer as she plays a young woman being attacked in Within Our Gates.

While the book is written as a history, it also reads like a journey and Bogle takes us on this journey unapologetically.

During the most difficult of times, these magnificent artists prevailed. As each chapter unfolds, the achievements from the previous decade are built upon, as black film artistry is allowed to blossom and grow.

The book is impactful yet easy to read, but it is so thick with information it might be best to take it slow in order to absorb the full scope of the story that is being told.

For all self-proclaimed film history geeks, Hollywood Black will be a valuable addition to your reading list or to your collection of reference material. Published in 2019, it should be available at most booksellers.

** I purchased this book myself and did not receive any remuneration of any kind for this review.

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