Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Black Cinima Depicted in U.S. Postage Stamps

Randolph E. Schmid of Associated Press reports that there is a set of five new postage stamps going on sale today. The stamps honor vintage black cinema. (Now I'm going to click on over to Netflix and see if they have them in.)

Note: The image they sent shows only 4 of the set of 5.

Schmid reports: "Ceremonies marking the sale of the stamps will be held at the Newark Museum in New Jersey, which is holding a black film festival."

Posters in the set of 42-cent stamps are:

-- The time is 1935, and Josephine Baker, the St. Louis native who transfixed France and much of Europe with song and dance, stares out from a poster advertising the film "Princess Tam-Tam." Baker starred as a simple African woman presented to Paris society as royalty.

-- Another poster, for a 1921 release, provides a taste of the racial divide that sent the young Baker to Europe to pursue her career. "The Sport of the Gods," the poster proclaims, is based on a book by Paul Laurence Dunbar, "America's greatest race poet," and it adds that the film has "an all-star cast of colored artists."

-- "Black and Tan," a 19-minute film released in 1929 featuring Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra.

-- "Caldonia," another short at 18 minutes, which was released in 1945. It showcased singer, saxophonist and bandleader Louis Jordan.

-- "Hallelujah," a 1929 movie released by MGM. It was one of the first films from a major studio to feature an all-black cast. Producer-director King Vidor was nominated for an Academy Award for his attempt to portray rural African American life, especially religious experience.

Schmid adds: "Josephine Baker also earned military honors as an undercover agent for the French Resistance in World War II. Later, she was active in civil rights work and appeared with Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington in 1963."

Ms. Manitoba's quick research shows that Netflix has only "Princess Tam-Tam" and "Hallelujah!".

Princess Tam-Tam -- great drag name.

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