Black Like Me (film)

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Black Like Me
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCarl Lerner
Screenplay byCarl Lerner
Gerda Lerner
Based onBlack Like Me
by John Howard Griffin
Produced byJulius Tannenbaum
StarringJames Whitmore
CinematographyVictor Lukens
Henry Mueller II
Edited byLora Hays
Music byMeyer Kupferman
The Hilltop Company
Distributed byContinental Distributing
Release date
  • May 20, 1964 (1964-05-20)
Running time
107 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States

Black Like Me is a 1964 American drama film based on the 1961 book Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. The journalist disguised himself to pass as an African-American man for six weeks in 1959 in the Deep South to report on life in the segregated society from the other side of the color line. The film was directed by Carl Lerner and the screenplay was written by Carl and Gerda Lerner. The film stars James Whitmore, Sorrell Booke and Roscoe Lee Browne.

The DVD was released December 11, 2012 in North America from Video Services Corp. The DVD includes a documentary titled Uncommon Vision about John Howard Griffin, the journalist on which the main character is based.[2]


John Finley Horton (James Whitmore) is a liberal white journalist who darkens his face and hands (and to some degree his body) using various means, sufficiently to pass for a black man. He travels for several weeks in the Deep South in order to report from the other side of the color line in the segregated society. He spends time in places from New Orleans to Atlanta, and encounters racism from both white and black people.



Critical reception for the film has been mixed. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times described the film as "melodramatic and unsubtle". He said it failed to place the viewer inside an African American's skin, and to convince the audience that the protagonist "is truly passing for black".[3]

Reviewing the film after the 2012 DVD release, Leonard Maltin awarded the film a positive 3 out of 4 stars. He said that, although some aspects of the film felt dated, the film's themes were still timely.[4]


The film made its DVD debut on February 12, 2002 by VCI Home Video. It later was re-released by Video Service Corp on December 11, 2012.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Black Like Me at Rotten Tomatoes
  2. ^ Hartel, Nick (February 14, 2013). "Black Like Me: DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". DVD Talk. The DVD: The Extras. Retrieved November 10, 2013. The film's bonus disc features a 60-min feature length documentary, Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin on the film's real-life subject.
  3. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "Black Like Me (1964) James Whitmore Stars in Book's Adaptation". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  4. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2014). Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. New York, New York: Penguin Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-451-41810-4.
  5. ^ "Black Like Me (1964) - Carl Lerner". AllMovie. Retrieved September 8, 2015.

External links[edit]