Picks and Pans Review: Small Steps, Big Strides
Subtitled The Black Experience in Hollywood (1903-1970), this documentary stops disappointingly short of the '70s "blaxploitation" period. (We see Jim Brown running hard in The Dirty Dozen, not bashing white baddies in Slaughter.) But the film, narrated by actor Louis Gossett Jr., duly honors the trailblazers—from Stepin Fetchit to Sidney Poitier, from Hattie McDaniel to Dorothy Dan-dridge—who showed the way for the black stars of today. A highlight is the story of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, the elegant dancer who endured years of servant roles before 1943's Stormy Weather finally allowed him to strut his stuff in the white tie and tails that so became him.