In Memory of Sidney Poitier--Paris Blues: Black Romance and Jazz

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(Photo/Twitter) With the recent passing of Sidney Poitier, it may be an opportune time to revisit a neglected film from his long legacy, “Paris Blues.” The 1961 movie featured novel questions of race, music, and romance that reviewers failed to appreciate at the time - but that stand out as progressive today.Paris Blues was a 1961 jazz drama that explored personal relationships, race relations, and dedication to jazz culture. Reviewers back then considered it a flawed product based on a sentimental novel by Harold Flender, a New York Jewish writer enamored with the centrality of jazz in the cosmopolitan scene of 1950s Paris.The city was a haven for musicians, artists, and writers in the decades after the world wars. Pioneer Black American expats left an imprint in the culture including soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet, novelist Richard Wright, and entertainer Josephine Baker – recently the first Black woman inducted into the French Pantheon.Filmed on location, the cast included Sidney Poitier as a saxophonist in a combo with Paul Newman, a trombonist. They play expatriate musicians in the cellar club house band and find a community with an assortment of jazz hounds, groupies and artists.

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