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Flashback: “Claudine”

My introduction to Claudine wasn’t some grand theatrical experience. I didn’t learn about it via an “Afrocentric” aunt or uncle who wanted to school me on black films from the past. No, I basically stumbled across it while channel surfing one day. The pulsating sounds of Glady’s Night gripped me from the opening shot and I stay glued throughout the film.

Since then, the film continues to be one of my all-time favorites. In light of so many women raising children on their own now days, the theme’s of the movie seem more relevant today than ever.

The 1974 film tells the story of Claudine Price (Diahann Carroll), a single Black Harlem mother living on welfare with six children. She finds love with a garbage collector, Rupert Marshall (James Earl Jones), who she calls “Roop”. Among the many complications surrounding them, the couple do not want to marry because they would not be able to support the children without welfare and the kids don’t trust Rupert fearing he may leave like all the others.

Rightfully so, Diahann Carroll received a nomination of “Best Actress” for the Golden Globe award and the 1975 Academy Awards for her role in the film.

I often wonder, if a remake of the film is attempted can it be as authentic and honest as the original? Would Rupert remain a garbage man or would he be turned into an Automotive Technician? Would Claudine go from being a maid to a Customer Service Supervisor? Better yet, what dramatic duo can convincingly play Claudine and Rupert well enough to entice you to go see them at a theater? So tell me, where does Claudine fit in your collection of black films? Below is a clip.

8 comments to Flashback: “Claudine”

  • Zeus

    This is one of my favorites too. Diahann Carroll played a single mother raising kids in the hood. This could have EASILY been exploited in stereotype and coonery. Yet her character and performance had dignity and demanded RESPECT.

    James Earl Jones was excellent as usual (except that scene in the kitchen when he is going off and is stuffing food in his mouth simultaneously, that was nasty as hell).

    If this film were made today, you can bet the studio would remove all the drama, make it a comedy, smother it with buffoonery and probably put Monique or Tyler Perry in the lead role as the mother.

    Classic indeed. Right up there with “Lady Sings The Blues” and “Let’s Do It Again.” :)

  • Diahann Carroll was robbed. I don’t remember who was nominated for the Oscar that year and don’t care, no one gave a better performance. No one. I’ve been waiting on a sequel for years. They left so many strings dangling, all of the principles are still alive, and I’ve got lots of ideas:).

  • i agree, diahann carrol was robbed. but i don’t want a remake of this, and to even think of who could step into these roles.

  • Sergio

    I wrote briefly about Claudine on S & A just over a year ago:

    And as I said back then I still vividly recall the outcry by a lot of people who were upset when Carroll took over the role from Diana Sands (who died before shooting started) They felt she wasn’t “black enough” and “too bougie” for the role.

  • I love how she proved everyone wrong. That really added to the beauty of her performance. She blew us all away. I so wish they would do a sequel. The principals are still with us so it’s certainly doable. Did Claudine and Rupe make it as a couple? And what happened with the kids? Each one of them had their own drama going on. The movie was left wide open for a part II and then they didn’t give it to us.

  • Wanett

    I’ve never seen this, but I will soon. I loved the clip! It’s available to watch instantly on Netflix for those who are interested.

  • Some of this movie was filmed on my old block on a 151 Street and Broadway. Was even able to get Diahann Carroll’s autograph and she was a very nice woman.

  • pinksghetti

    It’s a really good movie and mixes some comedy with drama. It’s aalso cute. I wonder if things in society have changed too much for a remake.