October 25, 2021

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Melvin Van Peebles Dead: The director of the song Sweet Sweetback’s Badass

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Influential filmmaker and director and actor Mario Van Peebles’ father Melvin Van Peebles has died behind “Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song”. He was 89 years old.

“Dad knew black pictures were important,” Martio Van Peebles said in a statement from the Criteria Collection. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what was the value of the movie? We want to be the success we see, so we have to keep ourselves free. Real liberation does not mean imitating the colonial mentality. It means appreciating the strength, beauty and interconnection of all human beings. ”

“Sweet Sweetback” will be screened this week at the New York Film Festival to pay tribute to the 50th anniversary. “In an unparalleled career distinguished by relentless innovation, boundless curiosity and spiritual empathy, Melvin van Peebles left a disproportionate mark on the international cultural landscape through his films, novels, plays and music,” says the Criteria Collection.

Melvin and Mario Van Peebles directed Melvin in the 1989 film “Identity Crisis” and starred as Mario’s scripting and soul maker for a dead fashion designer. Melvin appeared in Mario Van Peebles-directed “Pose” in 1993, in which Mario acted, as well as in the Mario Black Panther play “Panther” (1995), Melvin adapted the script for his own novel, Mario Van Peebles. Directed by “Love Kills (1998) and Mario directed by” Redemption Road “(2010).

Melvin Van Peebles also starred in the others, appearing in the 1991 feature comedy “True Identity”; Reginald Hoodlin’s Eddie Murphy’s “Boomerang” (1992); The big-budget Arnold Schwarzenegger action film “Last Action Hero” (1993); Charlie Sheen’s action film “Terminal Velocity” (1994); The 2003 comedy “The Hebrew Hammer,” in which Melvin reprized the roles of Sweetback and Mario; And Tina Gordon Chisham’s 201 romantic comedy “People,” in which she played the role of Dada People’s.

In 1988, Mario Van Peebles starred in the short NBC sitcom “Sony Spoon” about a private detective, where his father was also a regular regular as the bar-owner father of Private Eye. On TV he appeared as a guest on series including “In the Hit of the Night”, “Dream On”, “Living Single” and “Homicide: Life on the Street”.

In “Sweet Sweetback’s Badass’s Song”, written and directed by Van Peebles, the film is dedicated to “all the black brothers and sisters who had enough people,” Van Peebles played the title character, an orphan (portrayed as Van Peebles. Son Mario’s child) grew up in Bordello, California, where he worked small jobs and grew up on live sex shows; One day he was told to ride with two crooked detectives (who collect security money from brothels and elsewhere), and they beat up a black militant. Sweetback finally decides he has enough and attacks the police, saving the black militant; Since then the film focuses on Sweetback’s move to the Mexican border.

Van Peebles employed a variety of interesting influences, including a large number of handicrafts to help reveal the “fugitive two night dream that became the life of a fugitive,” according to the book “The 50 Most Influential Black Films: A Celebration of African-” American Talent, determination and creativity.

According to “The 50 Most Influential Black Films”, “Sweetback” has a business of 10 10 million with a total budget of $ 500,000; A few months later, the studio-built, Gordon Park-directed “Shaft” starring Richard Roundtree was released and was a remarkable success.

“Sweetback” and “Shaft”, directed by Gordon Parks Jr., are generally thought to have given birth to the Blacksploitation genre with next year’s “Superfly”.

Van Peebles, however, criticized many blacksploatation films for having no political content.

Columbia offered Van Peebles a three-picture deal on the strength of his previous film, “Watermelon Man,” but neither Colombia nor any other studio would fund a film project that would become “Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song,” so he did it himself; Bill Cosby lent him $ 50,000 to complete the project.

The film’s soundtrack, Earth, Wind and Fire, was released before the film to promote and create word of mouth.

When “Sweetback” received an X rating from the MPAA, Van Peebles cleverly turned this significant barrier to box office prospects for any movie into an ad tagline that performed well with its target audience – “Rated X by All White Juries” – and announced Was, “If the rest of the community submits to your censorship, it’s their business, but white values ​​will no longer be imposed on the black community.”

“Sweetback” has generated a mixed critical response. The New York Times wrote a devastating review after its publication, but Stephen Holden wrote in a 1995 reassessment, “This nightmare of racial confusion and revenge, even the ‘reservoir dog’, exposes infinite limitations, injustices and cruelty to the world of blues. It was not the grandfather but the most innovative and politically inflammatory.

In 2003, Mario Van Peebles “Badassss!” Directed the film which was a documentary and had respect for his father’s “Sweetback”.

Versatile genius Melvin Van Peebles had four shows on Broadway, the first of which was “Ain’t Suppose to Die a Natural Death”, for which he wrote books, music and songs; It started from Broadway and ran for a total of 325 performances in 1971-72. The musical, which features elements from his three albums “Brar Soul”, “An Anticipated to Die a Natural Death” and “As Serious as Heart-Attack”, Tony was nominated for Best Music and Van Peebles was nominated for Musical and Best Original. The best book on the score, while the musical also received nominations for instruction, natural design and set design.

For his next musical the following year, Van Peebles took more control, producing and directing not only books, music and song pens. “Don’t play us cheap!” Another Tony nominated him for a musical book, and in 1973 he turned it into a film.

Van Peebles not only contributed the book to 1980’s “Reggae: A Musical Revolution”, but two years later, Van Peebles’ original comedy “Waltz of the Stork” was produced and directed by Van Peebles, with books, music and lyrics. Starring Van Peebles, ran for 156 performances. (Mario contributed background vocals and appeared in some of the scenes.) Van Peebles turned “Waltz of the Stork” into the 200-film film “Confessionsofa X-Dufas-Echifooted Mutha”, which was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.

For the “CBS School Break Special” episode “The Day They Arrested Books,” Van Peebles won a Day-Time Emmy in 1987 for outstanding writing in children’s special writing and also won the Humanitas Award.

Melvin Van Peebles was born in Chicago and attended West Virginia State College and then Ohio Wesleyan University, where he earned a BA in English Literature. He served three years as a Navigator-Bombardier in the Air Force.

Van Peebles experimented with a career as a painter, and, increasingly frustrated by the racist portrayal of African Americans in film, made some film shorts as an amateur in the late 50’s and early 60’s. He worked as a postal worker and grip a cable-car in San Francisco সম্পর্কে about which he wrote his first book, The Big Heart, in 1957. He spent some time in Mexico; In Holland, he studied astronomy at the University of Amsterdam and performed at the Dutch National Theater.

Cinematheque invited the franchise Van Peebles to screen his shorts at a theater in Paris, where he spent some time as a street entertainer and wrote five novels (in English); The last of these books, “La Permission”, enabled him to be admitted as a director at a French cinema center and received a 70,000 grant. While in Paris, he adapted the novel into his first feature-length film, Van Peebles-written and directed “The Story of a Three-Day Pass” (1968), an interracial love story about racism and a black soldier with a white girl. Involved and consequently demoted.

“The Story of a Three-Day Pass” is his first directing role in the United States: “Watermelon Man,” a comedy about a fanatical white man who turned black overnight (played by comedian Godfrey Cambridge). Estelle Parsons played his wife.

Joe Angio’s 2005 documentary “How to Eat (and Enjoy Your Watermelon) at White Company” describes Van Peebles’ roller-coaster life.

Van Peebles was once married to German-born actress and photographer Maria Marx in the 1950s, but divorced several years later.

In addition to son Mario, he is survived by daughter Megan Van Peebles, occasional actress and son Max Van Peebles, occasional actor and assistant director, and grandchildren.

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