Boyz N The Hood 20th Anniversary
Celebrating Boyz N The Hood’s 20th Anniversary
by Wilson Morales
July 12, 2011
Today is the 20th anniversary for the release date of John Singleton‘s historic film, ‘Boyz N The Hood,’ which was shown in theaters on July 12, 1991.
With Julie Dash’s ‘Daughters of the Dust,’ Mario Van Peebles‘ ‘New Jack City,’ Robert Townsend’s ‘The Five Heartbeats,’ Spike Lee’s ‘Jungle Fever,’ and Matty Rich’s ‘Straight Out Of Brooklyn‘ having played in theaters already that year, here came this new director, fresh from University of Southern California’s Filmic Writing program, on the scene with a film that starred a cast of unknowns and familiar faces.
‘Boyz N The Hood’ is the critically acclaimed story of three friends growing up in a South Central Los Angeles neighborhood, and of street life where friendship, pain, danger and love combine to form reality. “The Hood” is a place where drive-by shootings and unemployment are rampant. But it is also a place where harmony coexists with adversity, especially for three young men growing up there: Doughboy (Ice Cube), an unambitious drug dealer; his brother Ricky (Morris Chestnut), a college-bound teenage father; and Ricky’s best friend Tre (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), who aspires to a brighter future beyond “The Hood.” In a world where a trip to the store can end in death, the friends have diverse reactions to their bleak surroundings. Tre’s resolve is strengthened by a strong father (Larry Fishburne)who keeps him on the right track. But the lessons Tre learns are put to the ultimate test when tragedy strikes close to home, and violence seems like the only recourse.
While more black films were released that year, it was this film that brought Black Hollywood to the spotlight. It was nominated for both Best Director and Original Screenplay during the 1991 Academy Awards, making Singleton the youngest person at 24 ever nominated for Best Director and the first African–American to be nominated for the award.
Most recently, while at the 15th Annual American Black Film Festival, Singleton, who was there to show a 27 minute documentary on the making of ‘Boyz N’ the Hood,’ spoke to Blackfilm.com about the film.
“It’s good for all the brothers and sisters at ABFF to see what the cast had to say making ‘Boyz N the Hood’ and what it meant for them. It was lot for them to actually understand that when the film came out there was a certain esthetic within the black filmmaking community professionally and the people who aspire to make films line myself, that we were making films for black people, by black people, and that we are unique to who we are. We were trying to make something different from what had been done before. Now, people are taking for granted of seeing themselves on screen. There’s not many visions of black culture being seen on the screen right now.”
In an earlier conversation with Cuba Gooding Jr., who won the Oscar in 1996 for his performance opposite Tom Cruise in ‘Jerry Maguire,’ he spoke the importance of being in ‘Boyz.’
“It was one of those moments in your career where you realize something special has happened. I was on a cattle call, and I was one of 200 people he saw for that role. I screentested repeatedly for that movie. In the middle of three weeks of rehearsals they walked me out and there’s a Sony executive who said I had to do another screentest. (laughs) Here I am, an actor with his first major part in a motion picture, thinking I got the part, and they tell me I have to screentest again? I was so upset I was shaking, and that infused my performance in that screentest and the rest is history. I’ve been talking a lot about that movie, it’s very special to me.”
The film is coming to Blu-ray for the first time on July 19th, 2011.