Happy February 2021. This is the month to applaud black excellence. It is Black History Month and I would like to commence the celebration, presenting weekly collections of Black Cinema. Let’s begin the festivities by honoring and remembering the remarkably talented Cicely Tyson, who passed from this world on January 28, 2021 at the tender age of 96.
Born December 19, 1924, in Harlem, New York, this trailblazing, pioneer began her more than seven decade long acting career appearing in minor roles such as “Odds Against Tomorrow” and “The Last Angry Man”. Both, in which, she was uncredited before appearing in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, as Portia, the daughter of Doctor Benedict Mady Copeland, a bitter, angry man, who has no trust in the white community.
Four years later, Ms. Tyson would be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her stellar performance as Rebecca Morgan in “Sounder” (1972). She continued in her career, portraying strong African American women in television and film roles as “The Autobiography of Miss Jan Pittman” (1974), “Roots” (1977), and “A Woman Called Moses” (1978). Up until her passing, she was an active actress. This treasure national will be greatly missed.
“Carib Gold” (1956) is my movie selection. This one hour and eleven-minute film stars Ethel Waters as Mom and introducing Cicely Tyson in her first feature film role as Dottie. This is a tell of a struggling shrimp boat crew, who discovers a sunken treasure during a deep sea dive and the greed that devours them. Though this B movie is not a theatrical masterpiece, there are some great underwater scenes and Ethel Waters singing the title song is definitely worth the watch.
Since I am giving reverence to this fantastic actress, I would also recommend “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”. This one is about a deaf mute, John Singer, moves to a small Southern town to be closer to best friend, Spiros, who has been placed in a mental institution. While there, he helps the people around him. Though Alan Arkin, who portrays John Singer, and Sondra Locke, who plays Mick, give amazing performances, earning them both Oscar nominations, it is Cicely Tyson who stands out for me. Although her part was small, it was large in performance. This one you will have to see for yourself.
So, grab your mug filled with your choice of beverage. Sit back and get ready for an adventure and an emotional roller coaster ride. Both “Carib Gold” and “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” can be seen on YouTube.