Janne the Director’s Favorite Rare Movies Top 100 List #24: Coonskin (1975)
24. Coonskin (1975)
I have a special place in my heart for satire – especially if it comes with a social commentary that everybody fail to understand.
In Coonskin director Ralph Bakshi uses every black stereotype Hollywoodland ever used and cranks it up to satirize just how silly it is. Of course his vision was interpreted as being racist…
By people that hadn’t even seen the film.
I had finished the film on a Friday, I screened it in California for the museum on a Monday, and on Wednesday when I came to New York to screen it there were pickets there. I brought the film on the plane with me, and no one had seen it but my animators and two guys from the museum. But there were pickets there, shouting that the film was racist. I never saw anything so set up in my life, but the press never picked up on that.
– Ralph Bakshi –
Bakshi’s later film Crazy World (1992) was criticized for being a Roger Rabbit ripoff because it blended animation with live motion but that’s just not fair… he had done that numerous times before… in the 70’s! Here live motion and animation come together and we have actors like that black guy from The Shining and the black guy from Miami Vice and that black Barry ironically named White – all bustin’ ass in Harlem.
It’s hard to describe what the movie feels like but take a little Easy Rider with a pinch of John Cassavetes, Bakhshi’s own Fritz The Cat and some of those crazy things Fredo Corleone did in Las Vegas. But not even the producer of The Godfather, Albert S Ruddy, could save the film’s bad reputation and even though they tried to rerelease it under different names (Bustin’ Out, Street Fight, Rabbit: The Killer) the movie just bombed.
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