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REVISITING ROBERT TOWNSEND'S HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE

Posted by Billyjam, April 15, 2008 01:23pm | Post a Comment


Released 21 years ago, Robert Townsend's breakout movie Hollywood Shuffle stands the test of time, as witnessed by these hilarious but poignant clips from the 1987 comedy.  What made Hollywood Shuffle -- which was directed & produced by Robert Townsend and written by Robert Townsend and Keenan Ivory Wayans -- so great was the perfect balance of satire and  comedy it possessed as it accurately portrayed the rampant stereotyping of African Americans in film and television roles.  And it was never far off the mark either. (Examples of stereotyping in popular American film and TV productions were not hard to find, offering Townsend lots of material to draw from.  For an example of stereotyping in 70's TV, just rewatch an episode of Starsky and Hutch with the comic book jive-talking Huggy Bear character played by Antonio Fargas in it.)

Hollywood Shuffle is one of those rare really funny comedies that actually has a strong message and says something of worth. Recently re-watching Hollywood Shuffle, which is available at Amoeba Music on DVD (ask for it if you cannot locate it in the store), I was reminded of all the great actors that were in it including the aforementioned Townsend and Wayans plus Damon Wayans, Dom Irrera, Don Reed, and John Witherspoon.

The gang fight clip (above) is where the Stereotypes battle with Townsend playing Jimmy, leader of the Afros.  The movie is just chock-a-block with great scenes, including the black actors school scene (below), and the spoof on Siskel & Ebert, "Sneakin in at the Movies" (also below).





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Stereotyping (1), Robert Townsend (1), Hollywood Shuffle (1)