Go to Homepage   John Kisch & Edward Mapp: A Separate Cinema: Fifty Years of Black Cast Posters

 

Crescent Blues Book ViewsNoonday Press (Trade Paperback), ISBN 0374523606
Outbid five times on a Porgy and Bess lobby card, I wimped out. It didn't help that my husband's words played over and over in my head: "Stay off of eBay; you're getting out of control!" Call me chicken (and cheap), but I couldn't afford to see how high the bidder with the naggingly familiar screen name would go for the 1959 movie card, and I didn't feel like justifying my outright defiance when the mailman arrived.

Book: John Kisrch and Edward Mapp, a seperate cinemaTurns out the other bidder, John Kisch, co-wrote the book that taught me everything I know about movie posters, A Separate Cinema: Fifty Years of Black Cast Posters. Bidding against him reaffirmed my ability to spot a quality piece. I accepted defeat with pride.

At first glance, one might mistake Kisch's coffee-table-worthy A Separate Cinema for a mere picture book. But this showcase of black movies from 1915 to 1965 doubles as an entertaining history and reference book.

A professional photographer, Kisch shot all but five of the 200 movie posters displayed (most of which hail from his personal collection). He and co-writer Edward Mapp, author of Blacks in American Film: Today and Yesterday, present 50 years of movie history, and black history, in a book more suitable for owning than loaning.

Brief notes about the movies, including their years of release, production companies, storylines and leading cast members, accompany each photo. Some pages include movie stills, too. When applicable, the authors share the films' alternate titles, a useful touch for viewers who may remember Lena Horne's The Bronze Venus by its original release title, The Duke Is Tops, for example.

The contributors to A Separate Cinema bear witness to the book's significant historical contribution. In a brief preface, director/actor Spike Lee (a collector himself) talks about the importance of preserving movie history. Donald Bogle, who Spike Lee describes as "our most noted black-cinema historian," writes the 30 page introduction.

For Kisch, A Separate Cinema highlights a 20-year love affair with black-cast movie posters that began with a dorm-room tribute to boxer/actor Joe Louis. Lucky for us, Kisch didn't keep his collection cooped up in the garage. As a result, we get a beautiful compilation of colorful imagery, a must-have for movie lovers and history buffs.

Stacey Carter-Lane

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