My Baby Is Black!/Checkerboard [DVD]

Two offbeat French films dealing with racial prejudice in very different ways are teamed up in this DVD release from Something Weird Video. Both My Baby Is Black and Checkerboard have been transferred to disc in letterboxed format at the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1; the prints used for both features have suffered their share of damage over the years (especially My Baby Is Black), though the transfers themselves are strong and well-detailed. Both films have been dubbed into English, with no subtitles or language options included, and the clear if not sterling audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono. Bonus materials include a collection of trailers for other grindhouse-friendly French films (including a television spot for My Baby Is Black); a fine short film Paris After Hours, which depicts an late-night jazz session in the City of Lights (including Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and Kenny Clarke); an excerpt from the exploitation film Mondo Oscenita featuring clips from My Baby Is Black; and a gallery of exploitation ad artwork. As usual, the folks at Something Weird have gone out of their way to make this package something fans of strange cinema will go for, and Checkerboard in particular is a sleaze epic well worth investigating.
$7.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally remastered
  • TV spot for My Baby Is Black!
  • Bonus French-flavored trailers for Any Man's Woman, Comment les Séduire, Five Wild Girls, Manina..., Nude in a White Car, and Sellers of Girls
  • Join Roger Vadim, Christian Marquand, Dizzie Gillespie, and their friends for an all-night jazz session at 47 Rue Vieille du Temple in the French short Paris After Hours
  • The racial context of My Baby Is Black! is "explained" in the bogus cinematic-sin-and-censorship documentary Mondo Oscenita
  • Gallery of sexploitation ad art with exploitation audio

Synopsis

Checkerboard
A dying desert town becomes a flashpoint for racial violence in this bizarre, over-the-top drama from France. Cicada is a fetid, arid Dogpatch that had been slowly drying up ever since a nearby river was dammed up, sending the town's farmers packing. These days, Cicada has become home to a motley band of alcoholics, petty criminals, and prostitutes, with Bob Stanley (Jacques Richard), the town's solo war veteran, one of the few with any interest in improving himself. Cicada is racially segregated, with the town's black population living under a curfew, but Bob ignores that when he invites Bessie Vance (Toto Bissainthe), an attractive African woman whom he meets at the town's ramshackle school, to join him for a dance in town. Bob is more interested in making time with Bessie than making a case for racial tolerance, but enough of Cicada's rednecks are outraged by his dalliance with a black woman that he's brutally beaten later that night. One of the culprits decides to blame the near-fatal beating on the town's black citizens, and it's not long before Cicada is on the verge of a race war. Also known as Les Tripes au Soleil, Checkerboard was written and directed by Claude Bernard-Aubert, who would later offer a more measured view of race relations with My Baby Is Black. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

My Baby Is Black
A couple finds that their love is not accepted by society in the land of liberty, fraternity, and equality in this drama. Françoise (Françoise Giret) is a college student who is friendly with a group of idealistic bohemians living together in a Paris flat. An artist living with the beats introduces Françoise to Daniel (Gordon Heath), a medical student she spotted at a student cafeteria. Françoise is quite taken with Daniel, who is bright, friendly, compassionate, and handsome. However, Daniel is also black, and while Françoise, who is white, is not concerned with his race, she discovers not everyone around her is so open-minded. After several months together, Françoise discovers she's pregnant; her parents are shocked and demand that she have an abortion, and Daniel isn't certain what they should do, though his brave actions after a young black boy is abused by the police help her make up her mind. More thoughtful and less exploitive than its American release title would lead one to expect My Baby Is Black (released in France as Les Laches Vivent d'Espoir) was written and directed by Claude Bernard-Aubert. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Image coming soon
    Gregoire Aslan - Stanley
  • Image coming soon
    Mara Berni
  • Image coming soon
    Jacques Bezard
  • Image coming soon
    Paul Bisciglia
  • Image coming soon
    Roger Blin - Guide
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