Saturday, August 23, 2014

"The Quiet One"

The Quiet One is a classic film from 1948. It tells the story of a young black boy named Donald, who is withdrawn and friendless, but who is "rescued" by the staff at Wiltwyck School for Boys in New York. Directed by Sidney Meyers, The Quiet One was nominated for an Academy Award for its screenplay (co-written by James Agee, Helen Levitt, and Janice Loeb). The film is extremely dated, and some of the narration is absolutely cringe-worthy: "[The] ...boys are very backward in their reading" and "Children are much more ashamed of being stupid than most of us realize...." 

Nonetheless, it is noteworthy for many reasons--it is an early documentary (docudrama-style) portrait with a black male child as the central character, one who is disaffected, lonely, and alienated. The score was written by African American composer Ulysses Kay. 

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