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Another Rarity: "Black Like Me"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: October 25, 2012

The 1964 drama about a white man passing for black has been on video before, but the 2002 DVD release is out of print, and the new release is a restored version. The official word:

Video Services Corp. (VSC) announced today it will release 1964's controversial racial drama Black Like Me on DVD, digital and on demand formats on December 11, 2012.  Co-written and directed by Carl Lerner, Black Like Me stars the late James Whitmore as a white American journalist who darkens his skin and passes for a black man in the deep South, where he encounters a great deal of racism from both white and black people.  Black Like Me is based on the landmark memoir of the same name by John Howard Griffin, who used pigment dyes and sun lamps to blend into “negro” society and gain a true perspective on what it was like to live as a black in the deep Jim Crow south.

The film’s stellar cast includes Roscoe Lee Browne, Clifton James, Will Geer, and media gadfly Heywood Hale Broun in a rare turn in front of the cameras.  Restored from the original negative by Los Angeles post-production facility Sonic Pool for this long-awaited release, The Black Like Me DVD bonus features include the original trailers and a bonus disc containing the one-hour documentary, Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin from director Morgan Atkinson plus an insert with an excerpt from the forthcoming Reluctant Activist – The Authorized Biography of John Howard Griffin by Robert Bonazzi. The film is also presented in both 16x9 and 4.3 aspect ratios.

Middle school programs have included Black Like Me in their curriculums since its original publication date of 1961 and the film has been included in film school programs as well. The memoir was a searing portrait of the Jim Crow South and helped to change the nation in the ‘60s.

“We are thrilled to be involved in creating a lasting legacy for Black Like Me,” says VSC president Jonathan Gross. “Not only are the performances remarkable and true to the America of that era but working on this project has given us a new appreciation of the unique heroism of Griffin whose passion for truth and social justice fueled the incredible adventure that was his life.”

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