Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: +2

ONCE UPON A TIME WHEN WE WERE COLORED is like finishing a great novel in two hours. It takes the viewer into the heart and soul of one boy, Clifton Taulbert (Charles Earl Spud Taylor Jr.) growing up as a Southern black told through the recollections of his childhood. He reflects on the influence of certain people in his life and the lessons they taught him. From the wisdom and love of his great grandfather, PaPa (Al Freeman Jr.) to the determination of his Aunt Eleanor (Phylicia Rashad), Clifton's perception of life is formed. He is taught respect for the flag, love for his family, appreciation for his friends, hope for the future and reliance on God. To see such dignity and respect given to the black man is heartwarming.

The viewer is made aware of the hardships Southern blacks have endured. In one scene, Clifton's mother is shown giving birth in the cotton fields. White men beat Sammy, Clifton's cousin, for passing out literature on the black man's right to vote, but the beating is off-screen. Another time, PaPa and Clifton encounter the Ku Klux Klan marching in the streets, and one of the Klansmen calls PaPa an extremely derogatory name. However, this is not a tale of oppression, but one of support and love and the ability to overcome. God is worshipped and His principles adhered to. Aunt Eleanor encourages a young girl in a traveling show to go home to visit her mother. Except for one muffled obscenity, a few mild crudities and exclamatory profanities, ONCE UPON A TIME has almost no offensive elements. However, sensual dancing in a carnival girly show and in a black nightclub is rather graphic. This is a long overdue film honoring middle class black Americans.

Preview Reviewer: Sherry Oswald
Republic Pictures Corp., 12636 Beatrice St., Los Angeles CA 90066

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Mild - 3 times

Obscene Language: Once (s-word mumbled)

Profanity: Two exclamatory

Violence: Few times - Moderate (man hit with baseball bat, man punched in face, knife fight, man dumped out of truck, bloody face)

Sex: None

Nudity: None; Near nudity once (dancers in brief costumes)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Sensual dancing (in show and club)

Drugs: Few times (smoking and drinking beer)

Other: Men and women in church praising God; family has strong religious faith; woman gives birth; racial slurs

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Teenagers and adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.