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My Hopes and Concerns About The Film Red Tails

Hands down the sexiest machine ever created by man.

There are more than a few badly kept secrets about me. The first is that I’m awfully fond of pork-skins and Anheuser Busch products. (In tandem or separate.) Another is couple of secrets is that I like watching explosions and fighting hobos on Wednesday nights. (Never in tandem.) Finally, one of the biggest, badly kept secrets about me is that I’m a massive history/WWII nerd. [i]

I’m an even bigger nerd when it comes to the involvement of black people, more particularly black-Americans contributions to WWII. [ii] A few years ago when I heard that Lucasfilm, the House that Vader built, was doing a feature film called “Red Tails” about the exploits of the 332nd Fighter Group who are more commonly known as the Tuskegee Airmen my interest was piqued. (I kind of wanted to be a pilot when I was little too.)The reason for my excitement doubled because most films about WWII only depict (If they depict.) black servicemen wielding shovels, spatulas, or posted up behind the wheel of a deuce and a half.[iii] Very seldom were black men with rifles seen.

Red Tails, has a majority black cast with includes a lot of talent ranging from recognizable actors like Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrance Howard to up and comers like Nate Parker and the Wire’s Tristan Wilds and Michael B. Jordan so there is a great chance that the film will be marketable. [iv] Hollywood’s history with movies that have a majority black cast withstanding this film has to be bankable to insure others like it will follow.

Like every movie based on historical time periods or events I have the tendency to pick movies apart using what I know about the events depicted. This is due to my aforementioned nerdiness, history studies, and my inherent now it all status. Of course I haven’t seen the film yet so I’ve decided to list things that I HOPE to get from the film and my concerns with the film.

I hope that this movie was everything Miracle at St. Anna wasn’t. No knock to Spike but Miracle was all over the place and lacked a ton of focus. This is a cliché statement but the book really was better.

I’m concerned that this is more of a series of explosions than an actual story. Hey, I like when things go boom but I hope the tone of the film is deeper than a Michael Bay film… Any Michael Bay film.

That being said:

I hope the script matches up with the magnitude of what the likes of Roscoe Brown, Lee Archer, and others accomplished. Even the best actors can’t save a bad script. Hopefully John Ridley and Aaron McGruder did the work to give the cast the dialogue they need.

I’m concerned about one particular thing in the films trailer: Chanting. “We Fight! We Fight!” is somewhat prominent in the ads for the movie. I get that film trailers have to include things to get potential audiences hype to go out and spend their duckets on a movie. I’m just hoping that the chanting is an example of this. Although, black soldiers of the time period were responsible for developing many of the marching cadences that became common in the military so hell anything is possible.

I hope the aerial combat looks realistic. Due to the fact that there aren’t very many P-51D Mustangs in flying condition around the world we have to rely on CGI to carry the load. As awesome of a piece of flying machinery that Mustangs are it cannot defy laws of gravity and physics. [v] If you ever watched a big budget action film in the last 15 years you know that CGI is like Sriracha chili sauce—a little goes a long way.

I’m concerned that even “WE” won’t even go see the film. Hollywood often doesn’t invest in movies about black people because of one other color; green. If the studios can’t guarantee a large box office draw then that ish probably won’t happen. From time to time we’ve been a part of this problem too. Without a soundtrack or direct niche marketing black too often overlook black films.

I hope this is the first of many larger budget films giving historical events that are off the beaten path some shine. It seemed like a few years ago every movie remotely dealing with historical figures was about Queen Elizabeth I or Viet Nam. Hollywood, like the NFL is a copy-cat business. If Red Tails gets it done then hopefully more light will be cast on some topics that seldom see the light of day.

After I catch the movie this weekend I’ll do a follow up post to let everyone know what I think about it all. I don’t plan on pulling punches and hopefully I won’t have too. If even care, what are your thoughts about Red Tails or historically based films in general?

Vaya con Dios.


[i] I’m into it like Drake is into whining.

[ii] For my folks who are interested in brothers from across the ocean who participated in the big one checkout the King’s African Rifles.

[iii]Not to knock the contributions of truck drivers in WWII. The efforts of the Red Ball Express and others pretty much sealed the deal for the Allies in the ETO.  I’ve watched Band of Brothers about four times and there was one brother in the entire mini-series. He was driving a truck.

[iv] Mayne!!!

[v] If fighter planes were pretty girls then the D model P-51 Mustang is Halle Berry. Short-haired Halle at that. Conversely, the Vought F4U Corsair would be Kenya Moore.

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13 responses to “My Hopes and Concerns About The Film Red Tails

  1. You know the “mayne” footnote has me hollering over here…lol! I’m excited about the movie, I plan on seeing it Friday afternoon, I hope I’m not disappointed. I always loved the HBO movie about the Tuskeegee Airmen, definitely hoping they top that on the big screen. Oh yeah– one thing that did irk me was the trailer. If I wasn’t already amped to see it, the trailer definitely wouldn’t have sold it to me. JMHO

  2. Super excited about this movie! I haven’t actually had time to go to the theaters to see a movie since Terminator:Salvation. Sad considering it has ALWAYS been one of my favorite escapes since discovering that “moving pictures” were pretty exciting especially when you don’t have to drive 45 minutes to the nearest theater. Plus this gives you and I some more stuff to banter about that other people listening in to our convos might go “wtf?”

    • Yeah, imagine driving five minutes and fifty to see a movie. The last film I saw was The Hangover 2 on my birthday. I’m hoping Red Tails provides alot of talking points. Hopefully Lucas and company put the work in. It’s telling that he’s wanted to make this for the last 20 years and eventually had to put up his own cash.

  3. i agree with every last one of your points about the anticipation for this movie. and im not a history buff. so… take that for what its worth lol.

    my [black] friends and i are planning on rallying together to see it this weekend. not enough to just support the movie, but to support it on OPENING WEEKEND. i really really really hope WE show it some love in the box office.

    that being said… i mentioned that i was going to see this movie at lunch today to my all-non-black coworkers (though admittedly all very racially sensitive and mostly racially-aware). one guy said “didn’t they already make a movie about the Tuskegee airmen called… The Tuskegee Airmen?” after i mentally slapped him, i had to remind him that 1) that movie was straight to TV, 2) just because its been done before doesnt mean it cant be done again, 3) would it really be so terrible to retell the story of a population of ppl who played a pivotal role in WORLD history after being overlooked constantly throughout history??? i mean, i never read about the TA in my history books, so… it was just another instance of white privilege rearing its ugly head. like, its a crime to tell the story of blacks in WWII (a fact i would venture to say MOST ppl in this country have no clue about, including blacks) even if its already been told ONCE before in a cinematic portrayal. FOH.

    now im mad all over again.. thanks a lot Young! psssht

    • Well I would’ve countered with the point that every white rom-com is practically the same since Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

      Personally the anticipation is extremely high. Showing films from different perspectives is important. I love when Clint Eastwood did the companion film to Flags of Our Fathers from the Japanese perspective. Historically, Hollywood has the habit of removing minorities from historical films. Hell, black soldiers were omitted from Patton when they actually played a key role one of the films major plot points. I’ll give TNT credit when the did the movie about the Spanish American war back in the early 2000’s.

      Lastly, blacks seeing or not seeing this film is important to future movies like this too.

  4. I’m very excited to see this movie. Getting to see a story about the pivotal role of black men in fighting for humanity has me hype. And I love a good aerial dogfight. Since George Lucas loves his CGI, I share your fear of a movie too big on eye-popping visuals instead of character development. However, I think Anthony Hemingway will do a good job of keeping Lucas in check (I hope). If you haven’t seen this, here’s Hemingway speaking about Red Tails with some behind the scenes details on the process they went through to make it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlPuQLUqnJ4). Great stuff.

    And while it’s important for black people to go out & watch this movie, I think it’s more important that white people see it. Like you said, movie execs only care about the color green and white people drive movie sales. You often get movies with all-black casts being advertised & perceived as “black movies”, so white people don’t think it’s for them.

    • Character development is key here. Most movies don’t have any so I hope they get it right here.Going over Hemingway’s past work I hope that he will keep Lucas honest when it comes to the strory. I read an article with Tristan Wilds a few days ago and he pointed out that filming in Prague where there are few black folks helped with the feel of the film process.

      We need all races to move the dial on this one. Butts need to be in seats.

  5. hopes that i can get well at some point between now and sunday to go see it.
    *drinks more soup.

  6. The Only Real Outcast

    To piggyback on what you said about “Us” not going to see the movie…The Misses let me in on some background history about Lucas and this movie. She said that he pitched it to Hollywood and they didn’t pick it up (for previously stated reasons)…well that’s how he ended up doing it through his own studio. That being said, I really hope this movie gets a lot of support and brings in a lot of cheese. Everyone needs to see this movie. George Lucas is over it, so I think it will be a good movie.

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