Black Like Me (1964)

Disturbing and searing story starring James Whitmore as a dedicated reporter going undercover as a "black" man . . . this isn't a joke--it's based on a real story. Reporter Whitman undergoes a regimen consisting of a combination of sunlamp treatments and melanin pills to make his skin black. Although pretty convincing with his newly acquired darkness, Whitmore "passes" and gets an unsavory taste of being black in the segregated south. Though he finds immediate kinship and camraderie with other black men who naturally think he's a "brother," it doesn't offer much comfort in the face of abundant racism and hostility. The few blacks who know about him think he's nuts to willingly undergo such an ordeal and also contemptuous because he can't really know how they live since he can "change" anytime he wants to, whereas they can't. The test of Whitmore's inner strength comes in the way of whites he encounters--mostly they are outwardly loathing of him. However, the truly insidious ones are those whose seeming tolerance masks bigotry--in one case Whitmore hitches a ride from an old man who appears okay, then starts questioning him incessently about sex and black mans desire for white women, after which Whitmore gets roughly thrown out of the car and name-called when he refuses to get into the conversation! In another case he gets acquainted with a college student who seems alright, but when they get to his hotel room--like the man before him--only wants to talk about sex in regard to black as opposed to white men! Whitmore's physical and emotional abuse at the hands of hatred, bigotry, and sexual stereotyping transforms him into a calm reporter knowingly yet naively going on assignment, to a seethingly angry and emotionally disillusioned man trying to cope with prejudice and insulting stereotypes of blacks as an insensitive, sex-crazed race. Although somewhat moralistic, this is an excellent unsettling and thought-provoking film.
  • Drama
  • Running Time approx 90 mins
  • This is a Copy not the original

  • Buy the Product: