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Remembering Maya Angelou’s Rarely Seen Film ‘Georgia Georgia’

Remembering Maya Angelou’s Rarely Seen Film 'Georgia Georgia'

With the passing
of Dr. Maya Angelou, I remembered a piece I originally wrote for S & A back almost three years ago, about
what is one of the most obscure and rarely seen films from the 1970’s.

I’m
referring to is the 1972 film Georgia,
Georgia
, a low budget film, which
was based on an original screenplay by Angelou, who is mistakenly often credited
as also being the director of the film as well.

In fact, it was directed by Swedish director Stig Bjorkman, and was presented at
the Berlin International Film Festival
in 1973. 

Nevertheless, unless someone can prove it otherwise, it is
the first feature film to be written by a black female screenwriter. So, among
her many accomplishments, it should be no
surprise that Dr. Angelou was the first to break that barrier as well.

The film did
get an American release through Cinerama
Releasing
, which was a major studio at the time, however, it did quickly fade from sight.

The film
deals with a American singer (played by Diana
Sands
in one of her last roles, before her untimely death in 1973 at the age
of 39) who’s in Stockholm to perform at a concert, where she falls in love with a
white Vietnam war deserter played by Dirk Benedict (who of course would later go
on co-star in TV’s The A Team with Mr T).

My memories
are fuzzy about the film, since I haven’t seen it in centuries, but I do recall that it has a rather strange quality to it, with a shocking twist ending that frankly
didn’t make much sense to me, though I can, now years later, understand what
Angelou was getting at. But I would sure
love to take a look at it again.

Of course
Angelou appeared in some 15 or so films and TV roles as an actress, starting out
as an uncredited dancer in Otto Preminger’s 1959 film version of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, with Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge. She
also had an extensive list of credits behind the camera, not only writing
the screenplay for Georgia Georgia, but also co-writing the screenplay for the 1979
CBS TV
movie adaptation of her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, plus the original
screenplay for the 1982 NBC TV movie Sister Sister with Diahann Carroll and Rosalind
Cash
, among works.

And she did
make her one and only film as director, Down
in in the Delta
, a family drama based on an original screenplay by Myron Goble, with Alfre Woodard, that was released in
1998.

But back to Georgia
Georgia; It is unknown if we will ever get a chance to see it again. There were plans to release
the film on DVD through the specially
DVD label Scorpion Releasing, and the plans were to have commentaries from the
director and star Benedict, with, hopefully, Angelou as well. Although that was realistically unlikely, since she reportedly wasn’t happy with the finished film, feeling it was a
distortion of what she originally intended.

However Scorpion
Releasing has not yet released the DVD for unexplained reasons (possible rights
problems?), and, so far, no plans have been announced on whether they will. But if it
happens, we will be sure to let you know.

In the meantime, you
can take a look at some clips from the film below.

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