Scratching the surface...
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 04/05/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's Black Entertainment is a documentary about the contributions African Americans have made in the entertainment industry. It features commentary by such greats as Debbie Allen, Gregory Hines, Spike Lee, Ice-T, Faynard Nicholas, Little Richard and Wynton Marsalis. The quality of the sound is great and the way these great entertainers are interviewed demonstrates good judgment.
Unfortunately, after that, this documentary runs into trouble--and fast. From the very beginning we see little more than remarkably short clips of the best of the best performing in movies and live on stage. You get great clips of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, people breakdancing, The Nicholas Brothers' amazing dancing in Stormy Weather, Eartha Kitt dancing and singing and so much more as well. However, the word "clips" is the word that best describes what you're going to see when you watch this Showtime documentary. The film clips are simply too short; and the program attempts to cover too much ground too quickly.
For example, the 80 minute program is divided into six segments: The Dancers, The Divas, Rock & Soul, Jazz & Swing, Male Singers and Hip Hop. That's too much ground to cover in just 80 minutes. Unfortunately, therefore, the producers fail to give us an in-depth look at what black Americans REALLY did contribute to the entertainment industry. Yes, the footage they show you is wonderful; the quality of the footage is usually rather good for its age and you experience a wonderful feeling when you watch this historic footage. But how much can anybody say about black entertainment when the Jazz & Swing segment is a mere seven minutes?
The DVD comes with few extras; and what you get is more of the same--great performances pre-packaged into tiny 60 second mini segments. The image quality isn't as good as the footage in the actual documentary but the performances strike you with awe just the same. Unfortunately, this seven minute bonus feature again does little more than scratch the surface once again.
The footage you do get easily deserves five stars; but there's too much chopping up of this precious footage. They also try to cover too much ground in too short a time. Unfortunately, I must take off two stars to make this a three star review.
I recommend It's Black Entertainment mainly for persons who will be satisfied with just a cursory introduction to black entertainment. People who want to truly study the fine contributions of African Americans to the entertainment world will do best to skip over this one and look elsewhere for a better documentary with much more extensive footage and longer interviews.
Lester L. Carter | PHILA , PA | 08/01/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is an overall view. It doesn't give you too much information. The good thing is, it gives titles so you can pursue other venues to get to the pieces you're interested in. For instance, I've been looking for the dance sequence of the jitterbuggers. This disc gives me the title so I can try and locate the entire film. Thank you."