Eithne Quinn has written a masterful analysis of post–civil rights–era Hollywood through the lens of the Black creatives who pushed a more realistic narrative of the Black experience onto the big screen. Quinn explains the historical circumstances that converged to create a short five-year time period from 1972 to 1976 during which Black writers, producers, technicians, actors, and distributors operated less hampered by the white Hollywood establishment. More nuanced than anything produced under white control, films like Watermelon Man, Cotton Comes to Harlem, The Angel Levine, and The Landlord emerged absent the stereotypical “Blaxploitation” tales of Black hypermasculinity, female promiscuity, and the related problematic depictions of inner-city single motherhood and drug use, among others that would later come to represent the Black experience. Instead, audiences were treated to films that portrayed people as complex characters and ended “unhappily”—not the typical resolution white liberal audiences expected, but more...

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