Santa Monica, California
Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, United States. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles – Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood on the northeast, West Los Angeles on the east, Mar Vista on the southeast, Venice on the south; the Census Bureau population for Santa Monica in 2010 was 89,736. Due in part to an agreeable climate, Santa Monica became a famed resort town by the early 20th century; the city has experienced a boom since the late 1980s through the revitalization of its downtown core, significant job growth and increased tourism. The Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park remain popular destinations. Santa Monica was long inhabited by the Tongva people. Santa Monica was called Kecheek in the Tongva language; the first non-indigenous group to set foot in the area was the party of explorer Gaspar de Portolà, who camped near the present-day intersection of Barrington and Ohio Avenues on August 3, 1769. Named after the Christian saint Monica, there are two different accounts of how the city's name came to be.
One says it was named in honor of the feast day of Saint Monica, but her feast day is May 4. Another version says it was named by Juan Crespí on account of a pair of springs, the Kuruvungna Springs, that were reminiscent of the tears Saint Monica shed over her son's early impiety. In Los Angeles, several battles were fought by the Californios. Following the Mexican–American War, Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which gave Mexicans and Californios living in state certain unalienable rights. US government sovereignty in California began on February 2, 1848. In the 1870s the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad, connected Santa Monica with Los Angeles, a wharf out into the bay; the first town hall was a modest 1873 brick building a beer hall, now part of the Santa Monica Hostel. It is Santa Monica's oldest extant structure. By 1885, the town's first hotel was the Santa Monica Hotel. Amusement piers became enormously popular in the first decades of the 20th century and the extensive Pacific Electric Railroad brought people to the city's beaches from across the Greater Los Angeles Area.
Around the start of the 20th century, a growing population of Asian Americans lived in and around Santa Monica and Venice. A Japanese fishing village was near the Long Wharf while small numbers of Chinese lived or worked in Santa Monica and Venice; the two ethnic minorities were viewed differently by White Americans who were well-disposed towards the Japanese but condescending towards the Chinese. The Japanese village fishermen were an integral economic part of the Santa Monica Bay community. Donald Wills Douglas, Sr. built a plant in 1922 at Clover Field for the Douglas Aircraft Company. In 1924, four Douglas-built planes took off from Clover Field to attempt the first aerial circumnavigation of the world. Two planes returned after covering 27,553 miles in 175 days, were greeted on their return September 23, 1924, by a crowd of 200,000; the Douglas Company kept facilities in the city until the 1960s. The Great Depression hit Santa Monica deeply. One report gives citywide employment in 1933 of just 1,000.
Hotels and office building owners went bankrupt. In the 1930s, corruption infected Santa Monica; the federal Works Project Administration helped build several buildings, most notably City Hall. The main Post Office and Barnum Hall were among other WPA projects. Douglas's business grew astronomically with the onset of World War II, employing as many as 44,000 people in 1943. To defend against air attack, set designers from the Warner Brothers Studios prepared elaborate camouflage that disguised the factory and airfield; the RAND Corporation began as a project of the Douglas Company in 1945, spun off into an independent think tank on May 14, 1948. RAND acquired a 15-acre campus between the Civic Center and the pier entrance; the completion of the Santa Monica Freeway in 1966 brought the promise of new prosperity, though at the cost of decimating the Pico neighborhood, a leading African American enclave on the Westside. Beach volleyball is believed to have been developed by Duke Kahanamoku in Santa Monica during the 1920s.
The Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome is a National Historic Landmark. It sits on the Santa Monica Pier, built in 1909; the La Monica Ballroom on the pier was once the largest ballroom in the US and the source for many New Year's Eve national network broadcasts. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was an important music venue for several decades and hosted the Academy Awards in the 1960s. McCabe's Guitar Shop is a leading acoustic performance space as well as retail outlet. Bergamot Station is a city-owned art gallery compound; the city is home to the California Heritage Museum and the Angels Attic dollhouse and toy museum. The New West Symphony is the resident orchestra of Barnum Hall, they are resident orchestra of the Oxnard Performing Arts Center and the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Santa Monica has three main shopping districts: Montana Avenue on the north side, the Downtown District in the city's core, Main Street on the south end; each has personality. Montana Avenue is a stretch of luxury boutique stores and small offices that features more upscale shopping.
The Main Street district offers an eclectic mix of clothing and other specialty retail. The Downtown District is the home of the Third Street Promenade, a major outdoor pedestrian-on
A "Red Scare" is promotion of widespread fear by a society or state about a potential rise of communism, anarchism, or radical leftism. The term is most used to refer to two periods in the history of the United States with this name; the First Red Scare, which occurred after World War I, revolved around a perceived threat from the American labor movement, anarchist revolution and political radicalism. The Second Red Scare, which occurred after World War II, was preoccupied with the perception of national or foreign communists infiltrating or subverting U. S. society or the federal government. The first Red Scare began following the Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917 and the intensely patriotic years of World War I as anarchist and left-wing social agitation aggravated national and political tensions. Political scientist, former member of the Communist Party Murray B. Levin wrote that the Red Scare was "a nationwide anti-radical hysteria provoked by a mounting fear and anxiety that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent—a revolution that would change Church, marriage and the American way of Life".
Newspapers exacerbated those political fears into anti-foreign sentiment because varieties of radical anarchism were becoming popular as possible solutions to poverty by recent European immigrants. When the Industrial Workers of the World backed several labor strikes in 1916 and 1917, the press portrayed them as "radical threats to American society" inspired by "left-wing, foreign agents provocateurs"; those on the side of the IWW claim that the press "misrepresented legitimate labor strikes" as "crimes against society", "conspiracies against the government", "plots to establish communism". Opponents, on the other hand, saw these as an extension of the radical, anarchist foundations of the IWW, which contends that all workers should be united as a social class and that capitalism and the wage system should be abolished. In April 1919, authorities discovered a plot for mailing 36 bombs to prominent members of the U. S. political and economic establishment: J. P. Morgan Jr. John D. Rockefeller, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, U.
S. Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer, immigration officials. On June 2, 1919, in eight cities, eight bombs exploded. One target was the Washington, D. C. house of U. S. Attorney General Palmer, where the explosion killed the bomber, who evidence indicated was an Italian-American radical from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Afterwards, Palmer ordered the U. S. Justice Department to launch the Palmer Raids. Yet, in 1918, before the bombings, President Woodrow Wilson had pressured the Congress to legislate the anti-anarchist Sedition Act of 1918 to protect wartime morale by deporting putatively undesirable political people. Law professor David D. Cole reports that President Wilson's "federal government targeted alien radicals, deporting them... for their speech or associations, making little effort to distinguish terrorists from ideological dissidents."Initially, the press praised the raids. In the event, the Palmer Raids were criticized as unconstitutional by twelve publicly prominent lawyers, including Felix Frankfurter, who published A Report on the Illegal Practices of The United States Department of Justice, documenting systematic violations of the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the U.
S. Constitution via Palmer-authorized "illegal acts" and "wanton violence". Defensively, Palmer warned that a government-deposing left-wing revolution would begin on 1 May 1920 — May Day, the International Workers' Day; when it failed to happen, he was lost much credibility. Strengthening the legal criticism of Palmer was that fewer than 600 deportations were substantiated with evidence, out of the thousands of resident aliens arrested and deported. In July 1920, Palmer's once-promising Democratic Party bid for the U. S. presidency failed. Wall Street was bombed on September 2, 1920, near Federal Hall National Memorial and the JP Morgan Bank. Although both anarchists and communists were suspected as being responsible for the bombing no individuals were indicted for the bombing in which 38 died and 141 were injured. In 1919–20, several states enacted "criminal syndicalism" laws outlawing advocacy of violence in effecting and securing social change; the restrictions included free speech limitations.
Passage of these laws, in turn, provoked aggressive police investigation of the accused persons, their jailing, deportation for being suspected of being either communist or left-wing. Regardless of ideological gradation, the Red Scare did not distinguish between communism, socialism, or social democracy; the second Red Scare occurred after World War II, was popularly known as "McCarthyism" after its most famous supporter, Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthyism coincided with increased popular fear of communist espionage consequent to a Soviet Eastern Europe, the Berlin Blockade, the Chinese Civil War, the confessions of spying for the Soviet Union given by several high-ranking U. S. government officials, the Korean War. The events of the late 1940s, early 1950s - the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, the trial of Alger Hiss, the Iron Curtain around Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union's first nuclear weapon test in 1949 - surprised the American public, influencing popular opinion abo
The Black Orchid (film)
The Black Orchid is a 1959 American drama film starring Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn. Rose Bianco a florist widowed by a famous gangster, looks for happiness with widower Frank Valente. Rose is dealing with her son Ralph in a work farm for troubled boys, while for Frank, his grown up daughter Mary takes care of everything for him. Noble and Mary love each other and are engaged, but Mary refuses to marry him because she worries about who will take care of her father, she asks Noble to stay with her in her father's house. At the same time, she refuses to accept Rose as her stepmother and allow her to join the family. Before Frank’s wedding day Mary irons Frank’s clothes, cooks all the food and locks herself in her room; this leads Rose and Frank to call everything off, devastating them both. When Rose’s son finds out, he disappointedly runs away from the work farm, leading the police to come and search for him in the house; the next day, Noble comes and sees Frank is sleeping in his chair and Mary has still confined herself in upstairs.
He asks her to come out. Noble will wait at the church for him. Frank finds out that Rose is waiting beside the telephone for news about Ralph and reveals how miserable he is, torn between her and his daughter. Frank leaves and joins Noble in the church and Rose heads for Frank’s house to confront Mary, her son comes to the church, hoping to see his mother one last time before they send him to reform school. Frank and Noble bring him back to the farm and manage an agreement with the boarding manager, Mr. Harmon. On the other hand, thinking herself alone in the house, Mary unlocks the door and comes out of the room. There she meets Rose, who has decided to try to help Frank find happiness if it is not with her. Rose argues her point with Mary and makes her understand Rose's love for her father, Mary accepts her, asking her to stay for coffee. Frank, Rose and Mary have breakfast together. In the end and Frank take Ralph out of the work farm and the three walk toward the horizon. Sophia Loren... Rose Bianco Anthony Quinn...
Frank Valente Peter Mark Richman... Noble Virginia Vincent... Alma Gallo Frank Puglia... Henry Gallo Jimmy Baird... Ralph Bianco Naomi Stevens... Giulia Gallo Whit Bissell... Mr. Harmon Ina Balin... Mary Valente A worthwhile novelization of the screenplay was written by American writer Edward S. Aarons under the mild pseudonym Edward S. Ronns, published in a mass market, tie-in paperback edition by Pyramid Books with 1959 copyright assigned to Pyramid as the Almat Publishing Corporation. List of American films of 1959 The Black Orchid on IMDb The Black Orchid at AllMovie
Group Theatre (New York City)
The Group Theatre was a theater collective based in New York City and formed in 1931 by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg. It was intended as a base for the kind of theatre they and their colleagues believed in— a forceful and disciplined artistry, they were pioneers of what would become an "American acting technique", derived from the teachings of Konstantin Stanislavski, but pushed beyond them as well. The company included actors, directors and producers; the name "Group" came from the idea of the actors as a pure ensemble. In the 10 years of its existence, the Group Theatre produced works by many important American playwrights, including Clifford Odets, Sidney Kingsley, Paul Green, Robert Ardrey, Irwin Shaw, its most notable productions included Success Story starring Stella Adler and Luther Adler, Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing, Waiting for Lefty, Paradise Lost, the 1937–38 Broadway hit Golden Boy, starring Luther Adler and Frances Farmer. The Group Theatre included Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg, Cheryl Crawford, Stella Adler, Morris Carnovsky, Clifford Odets, Sanford Meisner, Elia Kazan, Harry Morgan, Robert Lewis, John Garfield, Canada Lee, Franchot Tone, Frances Farmer, Phoebe Brand, Ruth Nelson, Will Geer, Howard Da Silva, Sidney Lumet, John Randolph, Joseph Bromberg, Michael Gordon, Paul Green, Marc Blitzstein, Paul Strand, Anna Sokolow, Lee J. Cobb, Roman Bohnen, Jay Adler, Luther Adler, Robert Ardrey, Don Richardson and many others.
The Group Theatre's first production was Paul Green's The House of Connelly on September 23, 1931 at the Martin Beck Theatre. The company asked the Theatre Guild to help cover the $5,000 cost to perform; the Theatre Guild offered to pay the full amount if the group "removed Mary Morris and Morris Carnovsky from the cast and if restored the tragic ending" from the more upbeat and hopeful rewrite Green produced. The group instead raised half on its own, receiving support from Eugene O'Neill; the play was an immediate critical success and was recognized for the special ensemble performances which the group would develop. The group's production of John Howard Lawson's Success Story, which chronicled the rise of a youthful idealist who sacrifices his principles as he rises to the top of the advertising business, received mixed reviews, with Luther Adler and Stella Adler receiving the majority of the positive reviews; the group took on novelist Dawn Powell's dark comedy Big Night, rehearsed it for six months and asked for extensive revisions from the playwright.
The result was a box-office disaster that ran a scant nine performances. Harold Clurman, who took over the production late in the rehearsal period admitted the group's role in the fiasco. "The play should have been done in four swift weeks — or not at all. We worried it and harried our actors with it for months."Later, during the first full season, Men in White, written by Sidney Kingsley, directed by Lee Strasberg and produced by Sidney Harmon, became a financial success for the group. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. On the night of January 5, 1935, some members of the group participated in a benefit performance for the New Theatre Magazine. Written by Clifford Odets and directed by Odets and Sanford Meisner, the one-act play Waiting for Lefty was performed at the Civic Repertory Theatre in New York City and became a theatrical legend; the play reflects a kind of street poetry that brought great acclaim to the group and to Odets as the new voice of social drama in the 1930s. Odets became the playwright most identified with the group, its productions of Awake and Sing! and Paradise Lost, both directed in 1935 by Harold Clurman, proved to be excellent vehicles for the Stanislavskian aesthetic.
The following year, the group produced the Paul Green-Kurt Weill anti-war musical Johnny Johnson, directed by Strasberg. The Group Theatre's most successful production was the 1937–38 Broadway hit Golden Boy. Elia Kazan directed Robert Ardrey's plays Casey Jones and Thunder Rock in 1938 and 1939–40 for the Group Theatre; the group gathered at different summer locations to rehearse and train intensively for six of its 10 years in existence. The group spent the summer of 1931 at Brookfield Center, 1936 at Pine Brook Country Club, located near Nichols, Connecticut. Other summer venues included Connecticut. Despite its success and sweeping impact on the American theater landscape for many years to come, the group ended by 1941, factors included the impending war, the lure of fame and fortune in Hollywood, the lack of institutional funding, the friction of interpersonal relationships. After the war, in 1947, Robert Lewis, Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford founded the Actors Studio, where the techniques inspired by Stanislavski and developed in the Group Theatre were refined.
Under the leadership of Lee Strasberg, who joined the Actors Studio and became its director in 1951, what is now referred to as The Method emerged as a lasting force in modern drama. Institutionally, the Group Theatre influenced the Chelsea Theater Center, a theater in New York, born of idealism and destroyed by lack of funding and friction between its co-directors. Harold Prince invokes the group in his foreword to the book Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures
Works Progress Administration
The Works Progress Administration was an American New Deal agency, employing millions of people to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. It was established on May 6, 1935, by Executive Order 7034. In a much smaller project, Federal Project Number One, the WPA employed musicians, writers and directors in large arts, drama and literacy projects; the four projects dedicated to these were: the Federal Writers’ Project, the Historical Records Survey, the Federal Theatre Project, the Federal Music Project, the Federal Art Project. In the Historical Records Survey, for instance, many former slaves in the South were interviewed. Theater and music groups toured throughout America, gave more than 225,000 performances. Archaeological investigations under the WPA were influential in the rediscovery of pre-Columbian Native American cultures, the development of professional archaeology in the US; every community in the United States had a new park, bridge, or school, constructed by the agency.
The WPA's initial appropriation in 1935 was for $4.9 billion. Headed by Harry Hopkins, the WPA provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States, while developing infrastructure to support the current and future society. Above all, the WPA hired workers and craftsmen who were employed in building streets. Thus, under the leadership of the WPA, more than 1 million km of streets and over 10,000 bridges were built, in addition to many airports and much housing; the largest single project of the WPA was the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provided the impoverished Tennessee Valley with dams and waterworks to create an infrastructure for electrical power. Camp David, the presidential estate in Maryland used for international meetings, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge were both constructed by the WPA. At its peak in 1938, it provided paid jobs for three million unemployed men and women, as well as youth in a separate division, the National Youth Administration.
Between 1935 and 1943, when the agency was disbanded, the WPA employed 8.5 million people. Most people who needed a job were eligible for employment in some capacity. Hourly wages were set to the prevailing wages in each area. Full employment, reached in 1942 and emerged as a long-term national goal around 1944, was not the goal of the WPA. "Millions of people needed subsistence incomes. Work relief was preferred over public assistance because it maintained self-respect, reinforced the work ethic, kept skills sharp."The WPA was a national program that operated its own projects in cooperation with state and local governments, which provided 10–30% of the costs. The local sponsor provided land and trucks and supplies, with the WPA responsible for wages. WPA sometimes took over state and local relief programs that had originated in the Reconstruction Finance Corporation or Federal Emergency Relief Administration programs, it was liquidated on June 30, 1943, as a result of low unemployment due to the worker shortage of World War II.
The WPA had provided millions of Americans with jobs for eight years. A joint resolution introduced January 21, 1935, the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 8, 1935. On May 6, 1935, FDR issued executive order 7034; the WPA superseded the work of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, dissolved. Direct relief assistance was permanently replaced by a national work relief program—a major public works program directed by the WPA; the WPA was shaped by Harry Hopkins, supervisor of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and close adviser to Roosevelt. Both Roosevelt and Hopkins believed that the route to economic recovery and the lessened importance of the dole would be in employment programs such as the WPA. Hallie Flanagan, national director of the Federal Theatre Project, wrote that "for the first time in the relief experiments of this country the preservation of the skill of the worker, hence the preservation of his self-respect, became important."The WPA was organized into the following divisions: The Division of Engineering and Construction, which planned and supervised construction projects including airports, dams and sanitation systems.
The Division of Professional and Service Projects, responsible for white-collar projects including education programs, recreation programs, the arts projects. It was named the Division of Community Service Programs and the Service Division; the Division of Finance. The Division of Information; the Division of Investigation, which succeeded a comparable division at FERA and investigated fraud, misappropriation of funds and disloyalty. The Division of Statistics known as the Division of Social Research; the Project Control Division, which processed project applications. Other divisions including the Employment, Safety and Training and Reemployment; these ordinary men and women proved to be extraordinary beyond all expectation. They
The Long, Hot Summer
The Long, Hot Summer is a 1958 film directed by Martin Ritt. The screenplay was written by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. based in part on three works by William Faulkner: the 1931 novella "Spotted Horses", the 1939 short story "Barn Burning" and the 1940 novel The Hamlet. The title is taken from The Hamlet, as Book Three is called "The Long Summer"; some characters, as well as tone, were inspired by Tennessee Williams' 1955 play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a film adaptation of which – starring Paul Newman – was released five months after the release of The Long, Hot Summer. The plot follows the conflicts of the Varner family after ambitious drifter Ben Quick arrives in their small Mississippi town. Will Varner, the patriarch, has doubts about his son and sees Ben as a better choice to inherit his position. Will tries to push his daughter Clara into marriage. Filmed in Clinton, the cast was composed of former Actors Studio students, whom Ritt met while he was an assistant teacher to Elia Kazan.
For the leading role, Warner Brothers loaned Newman to 20th Century Fox. The production was marked by conflicts between Ritt, which drew media attention; the music score was composed by Alex North and the title song, "The Long Hot Summer", written by North and Sammy Cahn, was performed by Jimmie Rodgers. The film did not score significant results at the box office, its critical success revitalized the career of Ritt, blacklisted during most of the 1950s. Newman won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Ben Quick is on trial, suspected of barn-burning, but when no solid evidence is found, the judge expels him from town. Ben hitches a ride to Frenchman's Bend, with two young women in a convertible, Clara Varner and her sister-in-law Eula. Clara's father, Will Varner, is the domineering owner of most of the town. Ben goes to the Varner plantation. Will is away, but his only son, agrees to let Ben become a sharecropper on a vacant farm; when Will returns from a stay in the hospital, he is furious at Jody for hiring a notorious "barn burner," but soon begins to see in Ben a younger version of himself and comes to admire his ruthlessness and ambition, qualities that Jody lacks.
Will is disappointed with the man that his 23-year-old daughter, has been seeing for five or six years: Alan Stewart, a genteel Southern "blue blood" and a mama's boy. Will therefore schemes to push his daughter and Ben together, to try to bring fresh, virile blood into the family. However, she is hostile to the crude, if magnetic, upstart. Will is determined to have his bloodline go on, so he offers to make Ben wealthy if he marries Clara. Meanwhile, Minnie Littlejohn, Will's long-time mistress, is dissatisfied with their arrangement and wants to marry him. Jody becomes frustrated, seeing his position in the family being undermined. After Ben sells some wild horses for Will, he is rewarded with the position of clerk in the general store, alongside Jody. Will invites him to live in the family mansion; this is the final straw for Jody. He threatens to kill him. Ben talks his way out by telling Jody about buried Civil War-era treasure he has found on a property that Will gave him, a down payment to seal their bargain over Clara.
Jody finds a bag of coins. He is elated, thinking he might free himself of his father's domination. Late that night, Will finds his son, still digging. After examining one of the coins, Will notices that it was minted in 1910. Jody is shattered. Ben aggressively pursues Clara, she asks Alan what his intentions are, does not like what she hears. A defeated Jody finds his father alone in their barn. Jody bolts the entrance and sets the barn on fire, but he cannot go through with it and releases Will; the incident leads to a reconciliation between son. Men from town assume Ben is the culprit and start toward him, but Will claims he accidentally started the fire by dropping his cigar; the smell of fire brings back bad memories for Ben, who confesses to Clara that his father was a real barn-burner. He tells her. Ben's father got away. Ben tells her he is leaving town. An elated Will confides to Minnie that life is so good, he may have to live forever. Paul Newman as Ben Quick. Newman met director Martin Ritt as a student at the Actors Studio, where Ritt was a teacher-assistant for Elia Kazan.
Newman, under a contract with Warner Brothers, was loaned to 20th Century Fox for a fee of US$75,000. Meanwhile, his contract earned him US$17,500 for each ten-week shot, he traveled to Clinton, before the start of filming to study the mannerisms and speech of the Southern men in order to create a proper characterization. Orson Welles as Will Varner; the character was inspired by Big Daddy Pollitt from Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Welles' presence on the film was marked by multiple conflicts with director Martin Ritt, he agreed to take the role due to a tax debt of US$150,000. I've been as unhappy in a picture". Director Martin Ritt met the three cast members listed below while they were students at the Actors Studio. Joanne Woodward as Clara Varner. Woodward ended up marrying co-star Newman in 1958. Anthony Franciosa as Jody Varner Lee Remick as Eula Varner. Remick admitted that during the shooting she was intimidated by Orson Welles on the set because of his "icon" status. T
Sounder is a 1972 American DeLuxe Color drama film in Panavision directed by Martin Ritt, starring Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks. The film was adapted by Lonne Elder III from the 1970 Newbery Medal-winning novel Sounder by William H. Armstrong. In 1933 Louisiana, the Morgans, a loving and strong family of black sharecroppers, face a serious family crisis in the midst of the Great Depression. Nathan Morgan tries to teach his son David to be a man and survive in difficult times with their dog, Sounder, but Nathan is imprisoned for a year after stealing a ham to feed his starving family. On his way to visit his father, David discovers a school. A kindly but firm teacher named Camille takes him in and teaches him about important African-American figures in history. David becomes desperate to go to school, but when his father is released a maimed man, David must choose between an education that can give him a better life or staying home to support his father. While the book centers on the family’s concern for the dog, screenwriter Lonne Elder III stated that he preferred to focus on the family’s daily survival.
He noted that he at first refused the assignment, but producer Robert B. Radnitz and director Martin Ritt convinced him to work with them, saying, "I wanted to keep Sounder accurate in its historical context, not go off on any present-day fantasies."A notable aspect of casting in the film is that the minister is played by an actual minister and the judge is played by an actual judge. Taj Mahal recorded a soundtrack to the film, released in 1972 by Columbia Records. According to music journalist Robert Christgau, it was "the first soundtrack patterned after a field recording", featuring a "suite/montage/succession of hums, moans and plucked fragments", all performed in the key of the gospel blues song "Needed Time" by Lightnin' Hopkins. Fellow critic Greil Marcus regarded it as Mahal's "most eloquent music", although Christgau said "even Greil doesn't know anybody who agrees. I've always regarded field recordings as study aids myself." He gave the soundtrack album a C-plus in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies.
Sounder received warm reviews, was praised as a welcome antidote to the contemporaneous wave of black films, most of which were considered low quality, low budget and exploitative. The film’s depiction of a loving family was hailed as a banner accomplishment for black filmmakers and audiences. Film magazine Variety wrote that the picture had been "for good or ill, singled out to test whether the black audience will respond to serious films about the black experience rather than the'super black' exploitation features."Some of Sounder's success was due to its innovative marketing strategy. Fox targeted religious organizations and schools. Radnitz visited thirty-five cities and held over 500 screenings, with sixty simultaneous sneak previews held in New York City; the religious establishment came out in favor of the film, with an endorsement by the Catholic Film Office and a study guide for religious educators created by the National Council of Churches. The Variety article noted that Fox wrote a study guide, prepared by Dr. Roscoe Brown, Jr. director of Afro-American Affairs at New York University.
Fox spent over $1 million according to Variety. Based on sixteen reviews, Sounder holds an 88 %. In his Family Guide to Movies on Video, Henry Herx wrote: " captures the humanity of characters and a fine, distanced sense of its sleepy Southern locale; the movie earns a deep emotional response from its audience because its story and characters are believable. Not only a valid examination of the black experience in America, it is a fine family experience." He added that the boy's search for his father "provides additional drama". Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four, stating that "... This is a film for the family to see". Both Siskel and Ebert placed the film on their ten best list of 1972. Despite popular skepticism that the film would not be a financial success, the belief that "the black film market is an action and exploitation market", the picture was a major box-office hit. Made for less than $1 million, Sounder grossed just under $17 million, earning $9 million in US theatrical rentals in 1973.
It was the 15th highest-grossing film of 1972. A sequel, Part 2, was released in 1976. NominationsBest Picture: Robert B. Radnitz Best Actor: Paul Winfield Best Actress: Cicely Tyson Best Writing: Lonne Elder III. In 2003, ABC's Wonderful World of Disney aired a new film adaptation, reuniting two actors from the original: Kevin Hooks directed, Paul Winfield played the role of the teacher; when Sounder was released in theaters, the film was produced and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. Years when the film was released on VHS, Paramount Home Video assumed distribution rights. Sterling Entertainment has DVD distribution rights. Walt Disney Home Video has released the 2003 made-for-television film on DVD. List of American films of 1972 Sounder on IMDb Sounder at the TCM Movie Database Sounder at AllMovie Sounder at the American Film Institute Catalog