Native Son

  • 1986
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Drama

The second film version of African-American author Richard Wright's novel Native Son, like the first, misses the mark. Bigger Thomas (Victor Love) is a discouraged, inarticulate, frustrated, and deeply angry young black man in Chicago in the 1930s. He gets a job as a chauffeur for the Daltons, a rich, white, liberal family. His first night on duty, Bigger...read more

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The second film version of African-American author Richard Wright's novel Native Son, like the first, misses the mark. Bigger Thomas (Victor Love) is a discouraged, inarticulate, frustrated, and deeply angry young black man in Chicago in the 1930s. He gets a job as a chauffeur for the

Daltons, a rich, white, liberal family. His first night on duty, Bigger is told to drive Mary (Elizabeth Mcgovern), the impetuous daughter, to her evening college class. Once in the car, Mary tells him to drive downtown to a Communist meeting hall where she meets her boy friend, Jan (Matt Dillon),

a young, idealistic Communist. By the time Bigger gets Mary home, the girl is extremely drunk. Not wanting to get in trouble for disobeying Mr. Dalton's orders, Bigger carries her to her bedroom, setting in motion a tragic chain of events. Although producer Diane Silver worked passionately to get

her meager production financed, she diluted the power of Wright's novel by insisting on changing key elements of the story. Silver worried, and justifiably so, that if certain scenes remained in the film there would be no way an audience could sympathize with Bigger. While this may be true, it

destroys the power and honesty of Wright's concept. To her credit, Silver and her crew performed miracles on a limited budget. The film has a strong sense of time and place, and the cast is quite good. Ultimately, the film fails because of Silver's fears of offending the audience, the same fear

that Wright himself faced and overcame.

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  • Released: 1986
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: The second film version of African-American author Richard Wright's novel Native Son, like the first, misses the mark. Bigger Thomas (Victor Love) is a discouraged, inarticulate, frustrated, and deeply angry young black man in Chicago in the 1930s. He gets… (more)

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