I’ve written about this film before and I figured that it was only a matter of time before it came out on the Warner Home Video DVD-on-demand specialty label Warner Archive and this week it finally did.
I’m talking about the 1952 MGM film Bright Road with Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte. It was her first starring role after some 18 years of doing occasional small, and sometimes uncredited, film roles and Belafonte’s first film ever.
It tells the story of a young optimistic grammar school teacher (Dandridge) who with the help of the equally young and optimistic shcool principal (Belafonte), who has a crush on her, and together help a rebellious young boy (Phillip Hepburn) who in turn eventually becomes the school’s hero and saves the day. Some may look at the film and think is too quaint, old fashioned and corny. But it’s a wonderfully sweet toned, charmng and lovely film and I don’t know anyone who has seen it, even once, and not fallen for its simple charms.
And even though it was lower budgeted B-movie by standards at the time, it was remarkable for any Hollywood studio back then to make a drama with an all black cast. In fact what Hollywood studio would do that today? And a sweet one about a black teacher at an all black school?
This is definitely one film I’m adding to my collection and you ought to check out yourelf. You won’t be sorry
Below is the trailer for the film which is also rather sad and poignant It builds up Dandridge as if she’s a major star in the making, but just 13 years after this film came out she was practically washed up, broke, alone and dead from a drug overdose, either by accident or a suicide. A too familar story.