Mixed Messages: “Halls of Anger” (1970)

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    Paul Bogart’s “Halls of Anger” finds a barely perceptible niche in the often inflammatory tradition of Hollywood films that claim to expose the volatile underbelly of modern urban education, with all appropriate delinquencies bubbling forth in a gladiatorial arena bordered by blackboards and schoolyard brickbats, though in keeping with the civil rights controversies of the day,  the film adds a radical racial twist to the tired formula: it injects a small number of white students into an large urban high school consisting entirely of black students. The filmmakers apparently expect this unusual (for Hollywood anyway) reversed racial combination to be act as a powder keg on its own simplistic merits (as demonstrated by the crassly exploitative ads used to promote the film) in callously suggesting that violent racism is a natural condition determined solely as a matter of mathematics, (no doubt this is not an extraneous factor, but hardly the root cause) without any deeper contributory factors; an extremely lazy concession to shallow thinking that allows the filmmakers to skim the surface of both exploitation (clearly by the marketing, this is the way the producers, in retrospect, wish they’d gone) and social realism (the film never has the courage to rise above a “Room 222” level of complexity) without ever feeling the need to present ideas on any of the more profound societal issues they might explore, considering their chosen subject, except to rely on the most mundane of stereotypical characters and clichéd of situations.

To read the complete review, simply click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/now-playing-at-the-mercado-cinema/

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
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