THIS SHOWED up in a couple of feeds yesterday. I had never seen it before.
via The Paris Review
Studio 360 gives a little backstory here:
You’re watching 40-year-old Richard Wright, the author himself, playing 20-year old Bigger. And if that sounds like a bad idea, that’s because it was. Wright was not an actor, but the tremendous success of his book, and the modest success of the stage play (it was a tempered, more palatable version of the book, directed by Orson Welles on Broadway) gave him confidence that a film version of Native Son was the perfect next step.
But the gap between reading Native Son and seeing Native Son was too much for American audiences to handle. Hollywood producer Ben Hecht offered to make it with an entirely white cast. Wright declined.
Full piece here from Studio 360….
There’s a longer piece as well about the making of the film (and the many attendant struggles around it.) I haven’t had a chance to take a deeper look, but this is the link to Film Comment
(The age issue aside, in this clip — particularly as writer taking on his own work — I actually think he isn’t that bad…)