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American Experience - Stephen Foster
American Experience - Stephen Foster
Actors: David McCullough, David Ogden Stiers, Joe Morton, Liev Schreiber, Linda Hunt
Genres: Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
NR     2006     1hr 0min


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Movie Details

Actors: David McCullough, David Ogden Stiers, Joe Morton, Liev Schreiber, Linda Hunt
Creators: Katy Mostoller, Michael Rossi, Rocky Collins, Tracy Heather Strain, Henry Hampton
Genres: Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Television, Biography, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 06/06/2006
Original Release Date: 04/18/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 04/18/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Impressive Work on Complicated Matter
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 07/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I think the "American Experience" covers more than top-down matters; they discuss presidents, but they also cover less famous people. I knew nothing about Stephen Foster, but this program explains why he's significant to American history.

As an African American, my knee-jerk reaction was to dismiss or ridicule anyone who made music for minstrel shows. However, this work complicates the matter. Mr. Foster made the first popular song to call an African-American woman a lady, rather than something diminutive or insulting. He tried to clean up minstrel lyrics. This work has diverse interviewees, including an African-American woman and man. In the same way that Dr. Dre made no money off of a CD that lacked misogynist lyrics, Foster's non-minstrel music never sold wildly as his minstrel tunes did. The work said Frederick Douglass once completed Mr. Foster for his tunes.

The documentary interviews Dr. Eric Lott, a scholar on minstrelsy and other cross-dressing matters. I admire his writings and was glad to see what he looks like in person. He has marvelous hair. This is in contrast to one interviewee who wore a tacky, obvious toupee.

Modern music fans and musicians may relate to Mr. Foster in a number of ways. Just like many of the 1950s R'n'B musicians, he didn't make much money off his work. Like many artists and other famous people, alcoholism played a key role in his downfall. Like Selena, Lorraine Hansbery, or Theresa Cha, he died at a young age, perhaps before his time.

The work speaks of how Foster was influenced by Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin." However, he died in 1864 and I really wonder what he would have felt if he had lived to see the end of the Civil War the following year."