Bright Road (1953)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Studio-Era Black Cinema  |   Release Date - Apr 17, 1953 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 68 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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A very sweet and enormously well intentioned film, Bright Road is an enjoyable little film, but one that is perhaps better appreciated for its social significance than for any claim to great drama. Road was one of the few films in the early 1950s to feature an (essentially) all-black cast, and it is even more noteworthy for the non-exploitative approach it took. However, viewed as a film, rather than as an attempt to demonstrate social progress, Road is not an especially profound or interesting drama. It works, mind you, but there's little of dramatic originality in the screenplay. Still, that screenplay does hit all the right notes, and under Gerald Mayer's direction, it effectively wrings out the appropriate emotions from the viewer. Mayer is aided by his top drawer cast, led by Dorothy Dandridge. The scintillating beauty has to downplay her physical allurem here, but the result is worth it. She's charming, but in a down-to-earth way, and the compassion and commitment she brings to the role are essential to Road's success. She's well matched by a young Harry Belafonte, and plays very nicely off of Philip Hepburn's troubled youth. The story and dialogue are often overly familiar, but Road's good heart will entice most viewers into staying with it.