America's Dream

  • 1996
  • 1 HR 26 MIN
  • NR
  • Drama

Three African-American directors adapt short stories by prominent African-American writers (Richard Wright, John Henrik Clarke, Maya Angelou) in this trilogy made for HBO. "Long Black Song": Alabama, 1938. Farmer Silas (Danny Glover) leaves his wife Sarah (Tina Lifford) and infant daughter alone while he takes his crops to town. Lonely and bored, Sarah...read more

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Three African-American directors adapt short stories by prominent African-American writers (Richard Wright, John Henrik Clarke, Maya Angelou) in this trilogy made for HBO.

"Long Black Song": Alabama, 1938. Farmer Silas (Danny Glover) leaves his wife Sarah (Tina Lifford) and infant daughter alone while he takes his crops to town. Lonely and bored, Sarah entertains the sales pitches of a young white peddler, David (Tate Donovan), and makes love to him. When he learns

what has happened, the outraged Silas wants to take out all of his frustrations at the world on David, but Sarah convinces him not to let his anger get the better of him.

"The Boy Who Painted Christ Black": Georgia, 1948. A talented young student at a "colored" school submits a painting of Christ as a black man for a state-wide contest on the theme of ethnic pride. This creates a conflict for his school's principal, George Du Vaul (Wesley Snipes). After much

soul-searching, Du Vaul agrees to enter the painting in the contest, even though it will cost him a promotion by offending his superiors.

"The Reunion": Chicago, 1958. When jazz musician Philomena (Lorraine Toussaint) spots a familiar face in the audience of the club where she is playing, it brings back memories of her unhappy childhood as the daughter of a domestic servant in a white household.

Aside from being strong works of fiction in their own rights, the short stories that comprise AMERICA'S DREAM combine into a satisfying whole, providing a portrait of African-American life in flux as the country moves from a rural to a city-based economy. Unusual for this kind of omnibus film, the

segments are presented in reverse order of quality, with the best one opening the program. Of the three, "Long Black Song" is the one segment that could stand on its own. "The Boy Who Painted Christ Black" makes a strong point but has rather a didactic conclusion. "The Reunion," despite an

excellent performance by Toussaint, is repetitious and goes on too long. As the conclusion of this trilogy, however, it has far more effect than it would on its own.

Handsomely produced and well-acted by a first-rate cast, AMERICA'S DREAM is a sterling example of the kind of niche filmmaking that cable television is able to provide. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Three African-American directors adapt short stories by prominent African-American writers (Richard Wright, John Henrik Clarke, Maya Angelou) in this trilogy made for HBO. "Long Black Song": Alabama, 1938. Farmer Silas (Danny Glover) leaves his wife Sarah… (more)

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