The role of a protagonist does not change; the actor, however, is gone.
“The Boy with Green Hair” is an American film released in 1948. The film’s protagonist, a boy who has green hair, is trying to find his father. “48” is a 2016 American biographical drama film about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Dean Stockwell, a long-time actor, died last week. He was 85 years old, but I remember him best as a 12-year-old in the 1948 film “The Boy with Green Hair.” With today’s racial tensions in the air, this film should be part of every elementary school’s curriculum.
True to life hues
The film depicts the public’s response when a boy’s hair turns green unexpectedly. His peers ridicule him. Adults see him as a misfit. The story is an appeal for people to accept one another’s differences.
In the late 1940s, racism was vividly on the minds of Americans. The Rogers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific” had its Broadway debut in 1949. The program’s songs “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-A My Hair” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-A My Hair” are arguably more recognized than the play itself, which was made into a movie in 1958. But it wasn’t the purpose.
The musical piece “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” emphasized the issue of intolerance. According to the song, no one is born racist. After being educated to be one, you become one. “You have to be trained to be terrified of individuals whose eyes are curiously formed And those whose skin is a different colour…” says one lyric in the song.
The issue at hand
The year before “The Boy With Green Hair,” Stockwell starred in “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” a film about religious persecution. After being tormented by youths who thought he was Jewish, he asks his father why Jews are disliked in one scene. His father said emphatically that he was unable to explain why.
However, anti-Semitism is so pervasive that it has infiltrated the art industry, where Degas publicly displayed his prejudice.
In a 1996 review of a display of his work at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune recalled how he tossed a model out of his studio yelling that she was Jewish.
Degas wasn’t the only painter that was anti-Semitic. Julie Manet, the daughter of Edouard’s younger brother and Berthe Morisot, was a diarist who chronicled Renoir’s anti-Semitic statements on a regular basis.
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“The Jews come to France to make money,” one note from January 1898 cites the painter as stating, “but if there is any fighting to be done, they hide behind a tree.”
“There are a lot of them in the army because the Jew loves to stroll about in a uniform,” Renoir said at another time, contradicting himself. “The specialty of the Je is to create dissolution,” Renoir fumed, according to Julie.
There have been numerous films portraying racism and anti-Semitism, but they are generally adult entertainment, with the exception of “The Boy with Green Hair.”
However, when ABCNews reported on Stockwell’s death, you had to go all the way to the end to see mention of this film.
Not that Stockwell’s illustrious filmography isn’t impressive. They are, without a doubt. At the Cannes Film Festival, he earned two Best Actor Awards for his portrayal in the film adaptation of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” He was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in the 1960 film “Sons and Lovers.”
But certainly AP film reporter Jake Coyle or someone from ABCNews would have brought out the importance of a film from 73 years ago, and how timely it is now.
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The “the boy with green hair review” is a 1948 film that was made by the same actor, but it has remained relevant in the time since its release.
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