Black Film Classics | Top 25 “Race” Films

19 02 2008

Another day, another list celebrating classic Black films. Today, Time Magazine chooses the Top 25 Most Important Films on Race ever made.

Time’s list marks the significant achievement by Black actors by selecting 25 movies it believes honors the artistry, appeal and determination of African Americans on and behind the big screen.

“The 25 Most Important Films on Race,” spanning nine decades, includes such works as “Hallelujah!” (1929), “Imitation of Life” (1934), “Gone With the Wind” (1939), “Carmen Jones” (1954), “Killer of Sheep” (1977), “Boyz N the Hood” (1991) and Will Smith’s latest film “I Am Legend.”

The list “reveals a legacy that was tragic before it was triumphant,” writes Time magazine’s Richard Corliss. “At first, blacks were invisible; when they were allowed to be seen, it was mostly as derisive comic relief. The 1950s ushered in the age of the noble Negro, in the imposing person of Sidney Poitier — the Jackie Robinson of movies.

“Only when Hollywood realized that a sizable black audience would pay to see films more reflective of their lives, whether funny, poignant or violent, were they given control of the means of production. Sometimes. The fact remains that of the 25 films here, chosen to cover the widest range of black films, fewer than half were directed by blacks.”

We think that the list is solid – through the first 23 picks. “Madea’s Family Reunion” and “I Am Legend?” Of all of the films that could have represented this decade, those are the two that Time went with?


No “Ray,” “Hotel Rwanda;” no “Crash” or “Raisin in the Sun?”

It’s not our list.

Time Magazine’s 25 Most Important Films on Race

Hallelujah! (1929)
Judge Priest (1934)
Imitation of Life (1934)
God’s Step Children (1938)
The Duke Is Tops (1938)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
The Blood of Jesus (1941)
The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
Native Son (1951)
Carmen Jones (1954)
The Defiant Ones (1958)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Sweet Sweetback’s Baad Asssss Song (1971)
Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
Cooley High (1975)
Killer of Sheep (1977)
Richard Pryor Live in Concert (1979)
A Soldier’s Story (1984)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Boyz N the Hood (1991)
Eve’s Bayou (1997)
Bamboozled (2000)
Madea’s Family Reunion (2002)
I Am Legend (2007)




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