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Black Like Me (1964)

James Whitmore , Roscoe Lee Browne , Carl Lerner  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Whitmore, Roscoe Lee Browne, Clifton James, Will Geer
  • Directors: Carl Lerner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Video Service Corp.
  • DVD Release Date: December 11, 2012
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00997H1VQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,764 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Based on the landmark memoir by John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me stars James Whitmore as Griffin, who medically altered his pigment and, with the help of a sunlamp, reinvented himself as an itinerant black writer navigating his way through Mississippi and Alabama. Along the way he experienced firsthand both crushing racism and the incredible life force of the Afro-American communities. Thanks to a full restoration from the original negative, this is the first time Black Like Me has been released on DVD.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Role Reversal June 16, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This is the most powerful film with regards to the race problem in the Unites States that I have ever seen. A white man, doing research in sociology, turns himself black with the use of certain drugs, which allows him a glimpse into how "the other half" lived. Our protagonist gets a full dose of what it was like to be a black man in the middle years of the twentieth century. the attitudes of blacks as well as whites are examined throughout the film, and are quite ineteresting. (It's also a bit interesting to see "Grandpa Walton" playing a racist bigot!) A very important film that I would recommend to anyone, although it is not easy to watch. Anyone who gets through this film may very well have a darker opinion of humanity when it is over.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dated But Still Packs a Punch May 24, 2004
For those of us of a certain generation, this was a seminal movie. It brought race relations to the fore in a way which Time Magazine articles or even newsreel footage of Civil Rights marchers being sprayed down by power hoses didn't.
The impact came, for me at least, from James Whitmore's understated, slow-burn performance. Nothing that dramatic happens to him in this movie. He's just shunted off incrementally, in one place or another, for no other reason than that he's passing himself off for black. It's really a Spencer Tracy acting turn, in a way. His transformation from weakling to adjudicator is akin to Tracy's in BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK.
The Bad guys are pretty much set up in a row. We also know who the good guy is. Hate to use the analogy, but things are presented in very black and white terms here. We know who the heroes and villains are. But the drama is in how it plays out. Whitmore learns lesson after painful lesson. The upshot is that his story and the film itself acts as a powerful exposé of the segregrationalist policies of the era. It made it a lot harder for the South to justify it's arcane drinking fountain, swimming pool, cafe-seating, bus-seating policies, in other words. One of the really important movies of the era, in other words, and one that should still be receiving kudos!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking April 10, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I first read this book when I was still a teenager, and got to see the movie years later on those classic movie channels during Black History Month, and it is and was as thought provoking now as it was then. I don't know how this man wanted to do what some deem unthinkable, but he did, and he has my admiration. In the movie after revealing his true heritage, the man of the house wanted to know why would he do such a thing, while the younger man was real critical of him, and to top that, they were wondering why he would take advantage of his hospitality like that. Like a reverse racism thing if you would. But, I think that they were just bewildered by the whole thing. Please check out the book, and the movie if you can. They play it on Turner Classic Movies esp. during Black History Month.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please Re-release this film April 1, 2008
By Anita
Although dated, this film is griping and disturbing and should be seen. It needs to be re-released so that it can be seen. Not all people can aford the collector's price of those very few scarce copies that become available.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Like Me September 1, 2009
This movie is too good to not let the average person see it because it is cost-prohibited.
It has to be reduced.
It is an excellent movie
Who's making a killing?
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Black like Me" surrealistic and disturbing January 18, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I developed a very wierd feeling while I was watching this video. James Whitmore gives a tour de force performance in a movie that is very raw and atmospheric; a film that undoubtedly caused a stir when it was produced. This film is a must see.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Walk On The Other Side December 21, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
After years of neglect, BLACK LIKE ME finally gets a good presentation with this new 2-disc DVD release, which features a beautiful restoration of the 1964 motion picture along with a documentary about the author of the book on which the film is based. The DVD offers the choice of the original 4x3 format or a 16x9 version, both of which look impressively crisp and clear.
As for the film itself, this is a case where one has to look beyond the finished product and think more in terms of the message of the story. Why? Well, as other reviewers have noted, there's just no escaping the fact that James Whitmore does not even remotely look like he could be taken for an African-American, despite any amount of black makeup. And if you're looking for powerhouse dramatic performances or an unforgettable music score, you're not going to find them here. Still, if you can look beyond its deficiencies, this film has some important points to make, and it does so in a very understated and effective manner.
BLACK LIKE ME is a quiet and thought-provoking exploration of the effects of racism in day-to-day existence rather than a shocking expose of racial hostilities. As such, there are no scenes of beatings, cross burnings or other overt acts of violence. Instead, it shows how bigotry even in its most subtle forms can deprive an individual of dignity and the simple ability to lead a normal life. Think for a moment what it would be like to have to act in a demeaning way, on a daily basis, just to avoid verbal or physical abuse, or to be denied the opportunity to even apply for a job simply because of your skin color. These are the things that the film addresses.
BLACK LIKE ME might easily be dismissed by present-day viewers as a dated oddity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, brave and bold!!!
This is a a great story of a man who got a very ugly dose of reality, at his own vigilance. For the record, I like and respect John Howard Griffin and what he was trying to do,... Read more
Published 2 days ago by John Cousin
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, fast delivery
Great book. It should be required reading at hight school levels. My 14 yr. old read it in two days. Shipped quickly and in perfect condition.
Published 29 days ago by Dar B
3.0 out of 5 stars A fair rendition of the book
They picked a few highlights from the book and did a fair job of depicting them, but like most movies it doesn't evoke anything compared to the incredible impact that the book... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Julia
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful film
Gripping and all the more impressive given the time in which this film was made. Very brave and compassionate story.
Published 3 months ago by Mateo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Issue of Race in Black And White
This has always been one of my top ten movies of all time the issue of race is still prevalent today but it was even more so in the year 1964 the year this movie came out the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by AlanWarner
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must See!!
This movie personified and added visuals to the book, which I read as a teenager. Very compelling and still relevant today.
Published 7 months ago by Johannon Tate
5.0 out of 5 stars a must see for students, teachers, parents....everyone.
Sensitive and true to the story line in the book. Beautifully interpreted - well acted. This movie provides a solid education.
Published 8 months ago by hassenfritz
3.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in history.
The movie wasn't entirely believable. I think if it were made today, it would be more convincing. It did send forth a powerful message, however. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jane Austen
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
I have always wanted to see this. I know it's an old movie but I'm going to enjoy watching it.
Published 8 months ago by Sherrill M. Meeks
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I would recommend this book for junior high or above. It gives good insight into what it was like to live in that period.
Published 9 months ago by sandra
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