Movies that are more than just skin deep
If you like a bit of meat to your movies, then look no further than the latest two offerings On Demand. Loving and Fences are against-all-odds dramas that focus on race and love in America during the Fifties and Sixties. In a sense, love conquers all in both, but boy is it an uphill struggle for all those concerned!
Loving tells the true story of white construction worker Richard Loving, of Caroline County, Virginia, who breaks a cardinal rule of segregated Fifties America, by falling in love with a local black woman, Mildred Jeter.
With a baby on the way and interracial marriages outlawed in Virginia, they drive to Washington DC to get hitched, and then return to their home county.
And that’s when the problems really begin. The pair are dragged before the courts for breaking the law, and sentenced to one year in prison – on condition that they do not return together for at least 25 years.
What follows is a drawn out legal battle in which the Lovings (played by Joel Edgerton and our very own Ruth Negga) fight the American government to have their marriage made legal in all 50 states.
The performances are great from both leads in this story that harks back to a not-too-distant past when discrimination was the order of the day.
Fences is a little more complex in its themes. Yes, there are references to racial prejudice, but the real battle lines here involve family relationships.
Under the microscope is Troy (Denzel Washington), a father and former passed-over baseball player who is bitter at the hand life has dealt him and who opposes his own son’s sporting ambitions.
Caught in the middle is Troy’s wife, Rose (a cracking performance from Viola Davis), who turns a blind eye to her husband’s chating ways until circumstances make it impossible to ignore his actions.
Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, Fences is a powerful tale of family and racial strife. But long before either movie made it to the screen, actor Sidney Poitier was leading the acting field when it comes to racially-inspired movies.
In The Heat of The Night is set in the sweltering heat of an of a Mississippi town and follows an out-of-town black detective as he battles prejudice and tries to solve a young girl’s murder.
Poitier is something of a poster boy when it comes to racial movies. He appeared in British drama, To Sir, With Love, a gritty look at social and racial issues in Sixties London. But the gamechanger for his career must be his starring role in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which is a clever reworking of the prejudice surrounding interracial marriage.
Not only is the script great, but it showcases the talents of both Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Seeing those two greats on screen together is a joy, made more poignant when you realise that Tracy died just 17 days after filming finished.
You can watch Loving and Fences through On Demand in June and In the Heat of The Night is available to view on Netflix.
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