It was funny seeing the great actor Laurence Fishburne as a 13 year old child in this movie. He could act back then.This movie had a whole lot of great actors who were guest stars in popular black sitcoms of the seventies. Rosalind Cash as Laurence Fishburne's character's mother. Moses Gunn. Antonio Fargas is type-casted with the same type of role in every movie that he is in. This movie was made in the early 1970s. A police shot an innocent black man. Fast forward to 2007 in Norfolk, Virginia. The same thing is happening here today, over 30 years later! Yes cops intimidate people just like they intimidated people in this movie.
Cornbread, Earl and Me
Drama / Sport
Cornbread, Earl and Me
Drama / Sport
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Nathaniel "Cornbread" Hamilton was the black urban dream and a hero to youngsters Wilford Robinson and Earl Carter. Shortly before he would have become the first man from his community to go to college, he demonstrates his scholarship-winning running ability to his friends and admirers in the neighborhood. At the same time, the police are on a manhunt for an armed rapist. They mistake Cornbread for the rapist and shoot him dead in the street. In the aftermath of the community's shattered dream, and in the face of an intimidating police cover-up, Wilford is determined not to betray the memory of his hero.—SamBlob
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Laurence Fishburne's First Role
Mislabeled as blaxploitation, this is too filled with heart and universal themes to keep that label.
You'd have to hold a heart of stone or be the world's biggest bigot not to shed a tear at this tragic story of a promising athlete cut down at the prime of his life, all because the police mistook him for somebody else. It's as if this was ripped off the headlines today, yet told both with reality and compassion and fairness to everybody involved. In short, this is a masterpiece that just happened to be released by a film studio known for making violent exploitation films that were made for a black audience. This is a film that screams out to be seen by those who believe in civil justice for everybody, regardless of social status, color of their skin, and where they happen to live.
When you first meet Cornbread (Keith Wilkes),you can tell that he has potential, not only as an athlete but as a human being. Preteen neighbor Laurence Fishburne adores him, and the sudden murder of Cornbread by the police practically destroys him and his loving mother (a wonderful Rosalind Cash),stirring up the neighborhood and cresting hardships for Cash due to her disagreeable boyfriend and shifty city officials who want the case to be dropped. They use all sort of threats to stop the case against the city from proceeding, even threatening to close Cash's welfare case, necessary because of her heart ailment.
Moses Gunn is commanding as the legal counsel for Cornbread's family, the voice of ethics for the whole situation, and a real hero. He's basically playing the Gary Cooper/James Stewart role in a very Capra like movie, a lost cause that needs to be fought, but not in the way some social justice groups try to fight the system today. Cash is superb, winning the audience over when she shows despondence over Fishburne shoplifting a candybar, obviously determined to reach him right from wrong.
As for the character of Cornbread, he's shown to be a typical fun loving but family and neighborhood devoted young man, pranksterish as he involves his parents in an early morning basketball game in their dining room. Madge Sinclair, as the mother, shows both amusement and sternness as she insists that the game be moved outside while complaining about being fouled in an attempt to grab the ball. It is little bits like that which humanizes the characters in this urban neighborhood, although there are a few shady faces thrown in, too, particularly Antonio Fargas's one-eyed numbers runner who obviously intends to corrupt young Cornbread. If this has one flaw, it is the fact that it tries to show too much in a short period of time, indicating that the intended slice of black urban life needed to be expanded a bit and that this was far too important a film to be released as a B picture. 40+ years later, this has the potential to become a masterpiece made before its time. For me, it's a film I will cherish because it gives me a different perspective to look on when stories like this make headlines.
Sad Story about Black America
This movie seemed to show what really goes on in inner-city America between black people and the police in general, even if the police like in this movie are black too. This movie is set in 1974 Watts, fast back cars, number running pimps, soul music, Afro haircuts, everything 70's. What happens in this film is two cops, one of whom is black mistake a black basketball player for a rapist and shoot him to death accidentally. This basketball player Nathaniel "Cornbread" Hamilton is a well liked, talented, nice kid who is headed off to play D-1 ball. He has never committed a crime in his life and has done well resisting ghetto temptations that lead to bad things but unfortunately for him, he is mistaken by the police and is shot to death on the spot before he can do anything else. When his parents hire a black lawyer to charge the police for wrongful death, we see some really Uncle Tom type police officers who will stop at nothing to keep the truth from being revealed. The black officer who pulled the trigger calls all the blacks in the neighborhood "savages" and the black precinct captain threatens to take away a woman's welfare check for having her son testify against the police. Of course there are racist white cops too but that is expected in any Blaxploitation. I feel this movie was pretty real based on things I've heard about the 70s and I think anyone who wants to see how bad it is between the black community and police departments anywhere and why it will remain bad in years to come.