Episode 147: A Majority of One (1961)

Welcome, welcome to a brand spanking new series (no, no, this isn’t a series about BDSM; the only one getting spanked around here is Bumpy and that’s with a two by four) which we’re calling “Hooray for White People! Yay! They’re The Best! Who Needs Anyone Else?” Man, that’d generate some interesting comments, wouldn’t it? In all seriousness (or as much seriousness as we get to around here), our new series is called “Whitewashing” and we’re dealing with one of the more uncomfortable topics we’ve tackled: the long, embarrassing, and continuing-to-this-day bad habit that Hollywood has of having white people play people of color, often through the use of truly cringe-worth makeup, bad speech imitations, and more.  There’s another particularly insidious variant of whitewashing as well, where stories with characters of rich and varied racial backgrounds are rewritten so that the characters become white.  We’ll be dealing with this and other types in the weeks to come, starting with a particularly uncomfortable one for me personally, as I loved this movie growing up: 1961’s “A Majority of One.” Starring Rosalind Russell as a Brooklyn-based Russian Jewish immigrant (because, sure) and Alec Guinness as . . . a Japanese businessman.  Yup. Not kidding.  Clench your teeth, hold your nose and dive right in with us, won’t you?

Poll question: do you have a favorite location for films to take place? Some country, some city? What place would you like to see featured in films more often?

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

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Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

6 thoughts on “Episode 147: A Majority of One (1961)”

  1. Poll question response: To me, this is actually a double-edged sword. I love Northern England and Scotland as movie settings. I love seeing my home town of Boston, or, more specifically, Waltham (Mermaids, anyone?) On the other hand, being a Los Angeles resident whose neighborhood is used frequently for shoots, I wouldn’t wish the mess and noise and parking irritations on anyone!

    Stephen the assistant likes Chicago.

    1. To be fair, the shots in Mermaids that were done in Waltham were supposed to be Texas, so they kind of don’t count. Otherwise, thanks for the answers! BumpyBux! It’s the cryptocurrency you love to wish existed!

  2. Wow, this is really going to be a hard series. You guys picked a good one to start with. While there is no doubt the portrayals are racist, especially for 2021, the film was intended to be be the opposite and you had a nice discussion on how to deal with that. Even some great films are “of their time” and tone deaf to a degree that is impossible to ignore. Hollywood has a tendency to reward playing other races, sexualities etc by branding them “courageous” for lending their talent to be associated with unpopular groups so I think some actors thing they are providing a service or just starching their acting chops to new limits… or something.

    As for places I like to see in film, like most people anywhere I have lived is fun, Prague is a favourite. In Montréal, they film constantly in my neighbourhood and it is sort of a drag.

    1. Thanks, Vince, all around! Wait, did you LIVE in Prague? Thought you just visited. I think we all like to see our homes in movies. Makes it feel more connected. BumpyBux for you!

      1. No I wish, if I had gone earlier in my life I might have found a way to move there. I just wrote that weird, sorry!

  3. Vincent said it very well–you do a good job talking not only about why these movies shouldn’t exist but also why they exist in the first place, which is a tough conversation to have. This is a difficult movie to start out with, and I have a feeling it’s not going to get any easier.

    For locations, it’s easy: New Zealand. Lord of the Rings spoiled me, as did The Piano. It just seems to have everything, and to have it better than most other places. Honestly though, if it has good mountains I’m happy.

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