Familiarity and Struggle. Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte in American Conema of the 1950s and 1960s. Cover Image
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Oswojenie i walka. Sidney Poitier i Harry Belafonte w amerykańskim kinie lat 50. i 60.
Familiarity and Struggle. Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte in American Conema of the 1950s and 1960s.

Author(s): Patrycja Włodek
Subject(s): Theatre, Dance, Performing Arts
Published by: Instytut Sztuki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Poitier Sidney; Belafonte Harry

Summary/Abstract: Nineteen fifties and sixties in Hollywood were a period, when for the first time Afro-American actors – such as Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte – not only played the principal characters or roles of equal rank to their white colleagues, but were also well paid stars in their own right. At the same time their skin colour was not value free and neutral. It was always an element of wider cultural conflicts and tensions that were present on many levels. In almost every film they took part in during that period the white race was placed in the foreground. Poitier was identified with a new type of a black skinned character – who was a mild and conciliatory, and could be associated with the notion of „integration”, one that did not pose any threat to the dominant system of values, though nonetheless full of personal dignity. Belafonte in the 1950s created an opposite type – a protagonist that did not hide his anger and was aggressive towards the whites, a person with an erotic magnetism engaged in an active struggle against discrimination. The character type was not commonly accepted. As a consequence of this Belafonte did not receive roles that would in- terest him, and his movie career did not develop. Tracing the career paths of both actors and the roles that they played lets us see American cinema of the 1950s and 1960s as a cross-cultural area of struggle and as an element of changing culture.

  • Issue Year: 2012
  • Issue No: 80
  • Page Range: 120-138
  • Page Count: 19
  • Language: Polish