On this page I have film reviews or other film-related comments, which I will blog before they become Sprint Reviews on the s2c database. I would love to hear any comments you might have.
With the end of 2015 nearing, while analyzing LOST BOUNDARIES it seems only fitting that it should be my surprise discovery of the year. Having never heard of it and only stumbling upon it recently on TCM, what makes it such a salient film is the controversial subject matter for its time in 1949. I cannot think of an earlier film that directly confronts racial prejudice mainly between black and white as the main plot rather than as an unspeakable minor one. The drama is one of traditional storytelling for the most part in that it almost plays out as an educational film, one that you might see in a high school Health Ed class, which almost makes sense since racial prejudice and bigotry is a social disease destroying many lives, spreading throughout society without much media awareness back in 1949. Following up such literary classics written in 1940, such as, Richard Wright's "Native Son," and Carson McCuller's "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," and written in 1947 Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," the timing seems apropos to finally have a film at the end of the 1940's addressing what it is like to be an African-American. Being released only months before a similar, more mainstream film, PINKY, I have no clue how to answer the obvious question, why is LOST BOUNDARIES still hidden away in the "vault?"
We are told by an off-screen narrator that it is based on a true story. It begins in the present in a small New Hampshire town. In flashbacks beginning in 1922, the main characters, Scott (Mel Ferrer) and Marcia (Beatrice Pearson) Carter are light-skinned African-Americans soon to be married and first seen at Scott's medical school graduation. Through a turn of events Scott and Marcia eventually find themselves living in the aforementioned New Hampshire town posing as whites. The film quickly jumps ahead 20 years bringing into focus their two children, Howard (Richard Hylton) and Shelly (Susan Douglas) with the backdrop of WWII. I wouldn't go as far to say that the suspense begins, but surely not knowing at this point how the film will end adds a bit of suspense to a drama up to this point that has steered away from being too manipulative with various plot points. It is inevitable that the ruse of being white will eventually be disclosed or else there wouldn't be a story. But how and when and what will be the consequences become the questions that keep our attention focused until the plot-twisting climax.
Spoiler alert: Relatively speaking the racial prejudice in the film is accepted by the black community without showing much anger, more of a calm acceptance of the way things are. It is refreshing to see that bigots are not only presented within the ignorant white community, but also within the black community showing their racism towards light-skinned blacks. When Dr. Carter is refused a job in Georgia at a Negro clinic because he is light-skinned, he and his wife are forced to go north to live with her parents. He swears he will never pose as white, but eventually gives in when offered a job at a white hospital. After saving the life of another doctor, he is offered the job in New Hampshire, again forcing Carter and his wife to pose as white. Twenty years later, the final act deals with how his grown children react to finding out they are black in an all-white community and how Dr. Carter is refused acceptance as a Naval officer because of his color.