The Human Stain (2003)

R | 106-107 mins | Drama | 31 October 2003

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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HISTORY

The Human Stain was shot on location in Quebec, Canada and at Williams College, Williamstown, MA. The film, which moves backward and forward in time, is narrated in voice-over by "Nathan Zuckerman," played by Gary Sinise. Author Philip Roth used the Zuckerman character in several of his other novels (including one titled Zuckerman Unbound ), and Zuckerman is generally acknowledged to be a stand-in or alter ego for Roth. Many critics noted the difficulties of adapting Roth’s complex novel, which, along with its central theme of an African American "passing for white," also addressed life in the academic establishment, American politics and culture of the late 1990s and religion.
       A notable omission from the novel to the film was the deletion of “Coleman" and “Iris Silk's" children. Although there are onscreen credits for actors portraying “Lisa,” “Mark” and “Jeff Silk,” neither the characters nor the actors appeared in the released film. According to an interview with screenwriter Nicholas Meyer, their parts were shot but cut from the released picture.
       The film opens with the car accident in which Coleman and "Faunia Farley" are killed, but the dirver of the pickup truck is not shown. Coleman and Faunia's deaths are not revealed until mid-way through the novel. The film implies that Coleman identifies himself as Jewish because of the influence of his boxing coach, “Doc Chizner,” but in the book Coleman refuses Doc's suggestion, only identifying himself as Jewish when college friends and associates repeatedly identify him as Jewish. Another significant difference between the film and the novel is that in the novel, Coleman’s father, “Clarence,” dies while Coleman is in his ... More Less

The Human Stain was shot on location in Quebec, Canada and at Williams College, Williamstown, MA. The film, which moves backward and forward in time, is narrated in voice-over by "Nathan Zuckerman," played by Gary Sinise. Author Philip Roth used the Zuckerman character in several of his other novels (including one titled Zuckerman Unbound ), and Zuckerman is generally acknowledged to be a stand-in or alter ego for Roth. Many critics noted the difficulties of adapting Roth’s complex novel, which, along with its central theme of an African American "passing for white," also addressed life in the academic establishment, American politics and culture of the late 1990s and religion.
       A notable omission from the novel to the film was the deletion of “Coleman" and “Iris Silk's" children. Although there are onscreen credits for actors portraying “Lisa,” “Mark” and “Jeff Silk,” neither the characters nor the actors appeared in the released film. According to an interview with screenwriter Nicholas Meyer, their parts were shot but cut from the released picture.
       The film opens with the car accident in which Coleman and "Faunia Farley" are killed, but the dirver of the pickup truck is not shown. Coleman and Faunia's deaths are not revealed until mid-way through the novel. The film implies that Coleman identifies himself as Jewish because of the influence of his boxing coach, “Doc Chizner,” but in the book Coleman refuses Doc's suggestion, only identifying himself as Jewish when college friends and associates repeatedly identify him as Jewish. Another significant difference between the film and the novel is that in the novel, Coleman’s father, “Clarence,” dies while Coleman is in his first semester at Howard University, located in Washington, D.C., where Coleman bristles against being circumscribed as a black man, thus leading to his decision to pass for white. Another major difference is that in the film, after "Steena Paulsson" rejects Coleman, he becomes a professional boxer who is especially brutal to black opponents. In the novel, Coleman gives up boxing when he meets Steena.
       According to a DV article, the release of The Human Stain was postponed after its showing at the Toronto Film Festival from 26 Sep to 31 Oct in order to better position the film as an Academy Award contender. Articles noted that the film had a mixed reception with audiences at both the Venice and the Toronto Film Festivals, which may have prompted the release date change. Many reviews criticized the casting of Welsh-born actor Anthony Hopkins as the light-skinned, African-American Coleman. The Var reviewer noted the "film’s questionable elements...especially the casting of Anthony Hopkins...playing an African-American, a prospect that seems...utterly preposterous," but acknowledged the difficulty in casting for this particular story. Producers responded that casting a known black actor would have robbed the film of a crucial narrative element of complexity and surprise.
       The Human Stain marked the feature film debut of Wentworth Miller. The film was dedicated to cinematographer Jean Yves Escoffier, who died shortly after its completion. The Human Stain was selected by AFI as one of the top ten films of 2003.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Oct 2001
p. 1, 18.
Daily Variety
15 Sep 2003.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 2000.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 2002.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 2002.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 2003.
---
LA Weekly
31 Oct 2003.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 Oct 2003.
---
New York Times
31 Oct 2003.
---
New York Times
10 Nov 2003
The Arts, p. 1, 6.
Premiere
Sep 2003
pp. 71-73.
Variety
2 Sep 2003.
---
Wall Street Journal
24 Oct 2003.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, Massachusetts unit
2d asst dir
Key 2d asst dir, Massachusetts unit
2d 2d asst dir, Massachusetts unit
3rd asst dir
Addl 3rd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op/Steadicam
1st asst photog
1st asst photog, Massachusetts unit
2d asst photog
2d asst photog, Massachusetts unit
Film loader
Film loader, Massachusetts unit
Film runner, Massachusetts unit
Still photog
Still photog, Massachusetts unit
Remote head tech
Video-assist, Massachusetts unit
Chief lighting tech
Chief lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Asst chief lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Genny op
Genny op, Massachusetts unit
Genny op, Massachusetts unit
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Rigging chief lighting tech
Rigging chief lighting tech
Rigging chief lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Asst rigging chief lighting tech
Asst rigging chief lighting tech
Asst rigging chief lighting tech, Massachusetts un
Rigging lighting tech
Rigging lighting tech
Rigging lighting tech
Rigging lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
Rigging lighting tech, Massachusetts unit
1st company grip
1st company grip, Massachusetts unit
2d company grip
2d company grip, Massachusetts unit
Dolly grip, Massachusetts unit
Grip, Massachusetts unit
Grip, Massachusetts unit
Grip, Massachusetts unit
Grip, Massachusetts unit
Rigging 1st company grip
Rigging 1st company grip, Massachusetts unit
Rigging 2d company grip
Rigging 2d company grip, Massachusetts unit
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip, Massachusetts unit
Rigging grip, Massachusetts unit
Rigging grip, Massachusetts unit
Technocrane op, Massachusetts unit
Cam trainee
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir, Massachusetts unit
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Asst art dept coord
Art dept runner
Art dept runner
Graphic artist
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Asst ed, Montréal
Apprentice ed
Post prod coord
Avids and support services by
SET DECORATORS
Key set dec
Key dec, Montreal
Addl key set dec
Set dec, Massachusetts unit
Set des
Set dresser, Massachusetts unit
Set dresser, Massachusetts unit
Set dresser, Massachusetts unit
Set dresser, Massachusetts unit
Set dresser, Massachusetts unit
Prop master
Prop master, Massachusetts unit
Asst prop master
Asst prop, Massachusetts unit
Asst prop, Massachusetts unit
Props buyer
Asst props buyer
On set painter
Head painter
Asst head painter
Painter
Painter
Scenic
Scenic
Scenic, Massachusetts unit
Scenic, Massachusetts unit
Carpenter
Lead man, Massachusetts unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv, Massachusetts unit
Ms. Kidman's cost
Cost, Massachusetts unit
Cost, Massachusetts unit
Cost, Massachusetts unit
Mr. Hopkins' dresser
Ward mistress
Ward mistress
Asst ward mistress
Head dresser
Dresser
Extras dresser
Extras dresser
Seamstress
Seamstress
Seamstress
Seamstress, Massachusetts unit
Ward tech
Ward tech
Ward runner
Ward runner
Key cost, Massachusetts unit
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus/Orch
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Solo piano
Scoring eng
Orch contractor
Auricle op
Asst to Rachel Portman
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer, Massachusetts unit
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Dial ed
ADR ed
ADR mixer, Sound One, N.Y.
ADR mixer, Sound One, N.Y.
ADR mixer, Fox, L.A.
ADR mixer, Paramount, L.A.
ADR mixer, Paramount, L.A.
ADR mixer, Pacific Ocean Post, L.A.
ADR mixer, CRC, Chicago
Supv Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley rec
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
SFX rec
SFX rec
Boom op, Massachusetts unit
Cable person
Cable person, Massachusetts unit
Dolby sd consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Post prod/Visual eff supv
Visual eff
Visual eff supv/Artist, Moon Against Man
Visual eff artist, Moon Against Man
Visual eff artist, Moon Against Man
Visual eff artist, Moon Against Man
Visual eff artist, Moon Against Man
Visual eff artist, Moon Against Man
Visual eff artist, Moon Against Man
Visual eff artist, Moon Against Man
SPFX supv
SPFX coord
SPFX tech
Digital consultant, Massachusetts unit
Main and end titles des
Main and end titles des
Main and end titles des
Title eff and prod
High definition facility
Coord for LaserPacific
Digital cinema consultant
DANCE
Choreographer
MAKEUP
Makeup dept head/Mr. Hopkins' makeup
Makeup artist
Makeup artist, Massachusetts unit
Addl makeup, Massachusetts unit
Ms. Kidman's makeup artist
Dept head hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist, Massachusetts unit
Addl hair, Massachusetts unit
Mr. Hopkins' hairdresser
Ms. Kidman's hairdresser
Mr. Sinese's hair & makeup
Mr. Miller & Ms. Barrett's hairdresser
Contact lens tech
Contact lens tech
Contact lens tech, Massachusetts unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Montreal casting
Toronto casting
Casting asst
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting, Massachusetts unit
Extras casting asst, Massachusetts unit
Extras casting P.A., Massachusetts unit
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr, Massachusetts unit
Unit mgr
Asst unit mgr
Asst unit mgr
Prod supv
Asst prod supv
Scr trainee
Crow handler
Fight coord
Boxing training
Ms. Kidman's dialect coach
Dialect coach
Gin rummy coach
Post prod accountant
Prod accountant
Accountant, Massachusetts unit
1st asst accountant
Payroll accounting
Accounting clerk
Accounting clerk
Unit pub
Prod coord
Prod coord, Massachusetts unit
Asst prod coord, Massachusetts unit
Picture car coord
Asst picture car coord
Asst picture car coord
Prod secy
Travel coord
Receptionist
Receptionist
Office driver
Office driver
Loc mgr
Loc mgr, Massachusetts unit
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr, Massachusetts unit
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc P.A., Massachusetts unit
Set P.A.
Set P.A.
Set P.A., Massachusetts unit
Set P.A., Massachusetts unit
Set P.A., Massachusetts unit
Set P.A., Massachusetts unit
Set P.A., Massachusetts unit
Set P.A., Massachusetts unit
P.A.
Medic, Massachusetts unit
Transportation coord
Transportation coord, Massachusetts unit
Transportation capt
Transportation capt, Massachusetts unit
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Driver, Massachusetts unit
Asst to Mr. Rosenberg
Asst to Mr. Rosenberg
Asst to Mr. Lucchesi
Asst to Mr. Lamal
Asst to Mr. Bozman
Asst to Mr. Hopkins
Asst to Ms. Kidman
Prod intern
Craft services provided by
Craft service, Massachusetts unit
Caterer, Massachusetts unit
Balloon tech, Massachusetts unit
Balloon tech, Massachusetts unit
Honeywagon, Massachusetts unit
Office asst, Massachusetts unit
Office asst, Massachusetts unit
Office asst, Massachusetts unit
Rights & clearances
Rights & clearances
Rights & clearances
Insurance provided by
Completion guaranty provided by
Prod financing provided by
STAND INS
Mr. Hopkins' stand-in
Stunt coord
Faunia's stunt double
Stunt cop
Stunt cop
Coleman's stunt double
Stunt driver
Les' stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Exec prod, Technique
Exec prod, Technique
Digital intermediate prod, Technique
Digital intermediate prod, Technique
Digital intermediate coord, Technique
Col management, Technique
Col management, Technique
Colorist, Technique
Colorist asst, Technique
Colorist asst, Technique
Col consultant, Technique
Chief technology officer, Technique
Eng, Technique
Eng, Technique
Imaging supv, Technique
Imaging tech, Technique
Imaging tech, Technique
Digital restoration, Technique
Digital restoration, Technique
Data management, Technique
Data management, Technique
Data management, Technique
Editorial, Technique
Editorial, Technique
System admin, Technique
System admin, Technique
System admin, Technique
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Human Stain by Philip Roth (Boston, 2000).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Woodchopper's Ball," written by Joe Bishop and Woody Herman, performed by Woody Herman, courtesy of MCA Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Sleepy Lagoon," written by Eric Coates, performed by Tommy Dorsey, courtesy of Soundies Inc. by arrangement with DePugh Music
"I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good," written by Duke Ellington and Paul Webster, performed by The Oscar Peterson Trio, courtesy of The Verve Music Group, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
+
MUSIC
"Woodchopper's Ball," written by Joe Bishop and Woody Herman, performed by Woody Herman, courtesy of MCA Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Sleepy Lagoon," written by Eric Coates, performed by Tommy Dorsey, courtesy of Soundies Inc. by arrangement with DePugh Music
"I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good," written by Duke Ellington and Paul Webster, performed by The Oscar Peterson Trio, courtesy of The Verve Music Group, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Day Dream," written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, performed by Johnny Hodges & Orchestra, courtesy of The RCA Records Label, a unit of BMG Music, under license from BMG Strategic Marketing Group
"Schubert String Quintet in C Major," written by Franz Schubert, performed by Gunter Weiss & The Vienna Konzerthaus Quartet, courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg, under license from Universal Music Enterprises.
+
SONGS
"Honeysuckle Rose," written by Thomas "Fats" Waller and Andy Razaf, performed by Jess Stacy, courtesy of Soundies Inc. by arrangement with DePugh Music
"Cheek to Cheek," written by Irving Berlin, performed by Fred Astaire, courtesy of Turner Entertainment Co., the appearance of Mr. Fred Astaire has been arranged through a special license with Mrs. Fred Astaire, Beverly Hills, California, all rights reserved
"Cry Me a River," written by Arthur Hamilton, performed by Ken Peplowski, courtesy of Concord Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
"Honeysuckle Rose," written by Thomas "Fats" Waller and Andy Razaf, performed by Jess Stacy, courtesy of Soundies Inc. by arrangement with DePugh Music
"Cheek to Cheek," written by Irving Berlin, performed by Fred Astaire, courtesy of Turner Entertainment Co., the appearance of Mr. Fred Astaire has been arranged through a special license with Mrs. Fred Astaire, Beverly Hills, California, all rights reserved
"Cry Me a River," written by Arthur Hamilton, performed by Ken Peplowski, courtesy of Concord Records, Inc.
"Embraceable You," written by George & Ira Gerswhin, performed by Teddy Wilson, courtesy of San Juan Music Group
"Day Dream," written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, performed by Marian McPartland, courtesy of Concord Records, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 October 2003
Premiere Information:
Venice International Film Festival: 30 August 2003
Toronto Film Festival: 4 September 2003
Production Date:
5 March--30 May 2002
Copyright Claimants:
Cineepsilon Internationale Filmproduktionsgesellschaft mbH Co. 1 Beteiligungs KG
Copyright Dates:
2003 2003
Copyright Numbers:
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Color
DeLuxe
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision cameras and lenses
Duration(in mins):
106-107
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
39551
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a snow-covered road in New England, retired Classics professor Coleman Silk and his much younger girl friend, Faunia Farley, are killed when their car is forced off the road into a frozen lake by an oncoming red pickup truck. Coleman’s close friend, writer Nathan Zuckerman, stunned by the unexpected deaths, sets about examining Coleman’s life: As a Jew from a poor background, Coleman attends prestigious Yale and Oxford graduate universities before becoming the Dean of Faculty at small Athena College in Massachusetts. Over the next thirty-five years, Coleman, a dedicated progressive, reforms the conservative college, first invigorating the stale academic program, then appointing the school’s first female and African-American professors. In 1998, nearly two years before his death, and a month into the new term, during a class lecture Coleman grows irritated when he calls upon two students who are continually absent. Frustrated, Coleman asks the class why the students are never in attendance and wryly questions whether they exist or are “spooks.” Shortly thereafter, the students, both African American, lodge a complaint against Coleman for making a racially insulting remark. Called before a board led by Professor Delphine Roux, an outraged Coleman denies that he knew the students’ race, refuses to apologize and resigns in a furor. At home, Coleman angrily tells his wife Iris about the meeting and his resignation. Equally livid, Iris supports her husband’s decision, only to be overcome by a sudden brain aneurysm that causes her death. Six months later, Coleman seeks out Nathan, who has taken refuge in a lone cabin in the country where he is attempting to return to writing after surviving prostate cancer and a divorce. ... +


On a snow-covered road in New England, retired Classics professor Coleman Silk and his much younger girl friend, Faunia Farley, are killed when their car is forced off the road into a frozen lake by an oncoming red pickup truck. Coleman’s close friend, writer Nathan Zuckerman, stunned by the unexpected deaths, sets about examining Coleman’s life: As a Jew from a poor background, Coleman attends prestigious Yale and Oxford graduate universities before becoming the Dean of Faculty at small Athena College in Massachusetts. Over the next thirty-five years, Coleman, a dedicated progressive, reforms the conservative college, first invigorating the stale academic program, then appointing the school’s first female and African-American professors. In 1998, nearly two years before his death, and a month into the new term, during a class lecture Coleman grows irritated when he calls upon two students who are continually absent. Frustrated, Coleman asks the class why the students are never in attendance and wryly questions whether they exist or are “spooks.” Shortly thereafter, the students, both African American, lodge a complaint against Coleman for making a racially insulting remark. Called before a board led by Professor Delphine Roux, an outraged Coleman denies that he knew the students’ race, refuses to apologize and resigns in a furor. At home, Coleman angrily tells his wife Iris about the meeting and his resignation. Equally livid, Iris supports her husband’s decision, only to be overcome by a sudden brain aneurysm that causes her death. Six months later, Coleman seeks out Nathan, who has taken refuge in a lone cabin in the country where he is attempting to return to writing after surviving prostate cancer and a divorce. Coleman asks Nathan to write about the hypocrisy of the academic establishment that caused Iris’ death, but as the men become friends, Nathan encourages Coleman to tell his own story. Coleman spends a year working on the project, only to confess to Nathan that his attempts have failed. While packing the private effects he has been using for his memoir, Coleman ignores Nathan's urging to continue writing and pauses over a photograph of beautiful blonde Steena Paulsson, his great love when an undergraduate student at New York University. Coleman then confides in Nathan that he has begun an affair with a thirty-four-year-old woman, Faunia, a cleaning woman at the local post office and the college. Delighted by Faunia’s frank sexual interest and made confident through the use of a sex stimulant drug, Coleman continues the affair, ignoring the disapproval by his friends and Athena’s faculty. Although guarded and uncomfortable with Coleman’s reputation and status in the town, Faunia finally confides in him that she came from a wealthy background that was shattered by her parents’ divorce. Faunia relates that after being sexually abused by her stepfather, she ran away from home and succeeded as best as she could on her own. One evening at Faunia’s room on the dairy farm where she also works, Coleman and Faunia are interrupted by the arrival of Lester Farley, Faunia’s ex-husband, who drives a red pickup truck. Les, a Vietnam veteran who served two tours of duty, has spent several stretches in a veteran’s rehabilitation program under psychiatric care and believes that Faunia used this to take away their two children. Coleman is surprised to learn these details of Faunia’s past, but does not judge her. Despite Coleman’s understanding, Faunia continues to feel uncomfortable about their social differences and suggests they stop seeing each other, but Coleman refuses. Another evening, Les again harasses Faunia and Coleman at night and, after contacting the police, Faunia demands that Les leave her alone. Les insults Coleman and then angrily accuses Faunia of murdering their children. Later after the police have escorted Les away, Faunia confesses to Coleman that she remains racked with guilt by the deaths of both her children in an accidental fire. Soon after, Coleman receives an anonymous note accusing him of taking advantage of a helpless, abused woman. Certain the note has come from an Athena faculty member, Coleman takes it to his lawyer, Nelson Primus, and requests advice. Incensed when both Nelson and later Nathan advise him to give up Faunia, Coleman recalls a pivotal event from his youth in the 1940s: As a successful boxer in high school, Coleman is surprised when his coach, Doc Chizner, assures him that he can win an athletic scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh. Although very fair-skinned, Coleman is African American and asks Doc how he could be accepted. Doc guarantees that if Coleman refrains from identifying himself as black, the scholarship board will assume that he is Jewish, like Doc. At home, Coleman dines with his family, his father, former optometrist Clarence, his mother, Dorothy, a nurse, younger sister Ernestine and older brother Walter, on leave from the army. Clarence has learned of Coleman’s boxing success and despite the news of a scholarship, coldly disapproves and insists that Coleman enroll in Howard University, a noted black school. That evening, Clarence, who now works as a waiter on a train dining car, collapses and dies of a heart attack. Shortly after, Dorothy consoles Coleman but is baffled by her son’s insistent refusal to attend Howard as Clarence wished. When Coleman explains that he does not want to live defined by his race, but rather by his individual talents, Dorothy remains dismayed and perplexed. Coleman then enlists in the navy, identifying himself for the first time as white. Later, at NYU, Coleman and Steena have become seriously involved, although Coleman has not confessed his true race. Confident of her love for him, Coleman invites Steena to go home to meet Dorothy and, elated by the implications, she accepts. Although stunned upon seeing Dorothy, Steena remains outwardly unruffled during the visit, but on the train ride home breaks down and acknowledges to Coleman that she cannot continue their relationship. Deeply hurt, Coleman takes his anger out by becoming a professional boxer known as “Silky” Silk and is especially brutal to black opponents. In the present, Nathan again entreats Coleman to stop seeing Faunia as her continued association with Les could prove dangerous. Instead, Coleman convinces Faunia to stay overnight at his home for the first time. The next morning, however, when Coleman makes breakfast for her, Faunia unexpectedly bursts into anger over his unassuming kindness and denounces him for his safe, comfortable life in which he has never suffered. Faunia flees from the house, but after spending most of the day reflecting on her past, returns and offers Coleman an apology. Coleman then admits he has something to tell her that no one else knows. That afternoon, Coleman and Faunia go for a drive and are forced off the road to their deaths by Les. Nathan later learns that an inquiry by the VA psychiatric board concludes that Les is delusional, but cannot establish that he was responsible for the accident. Coleman’s sister Ernestine attends his funeral and Nathan approaches her, believing she is the wife of an Athena faculty member. Ernestine explains her identity and, surprised but fascinated, Nathan asks for more details of Coleman’s past: After graduating from NYU, Coleman visits Dorothy bearing a photograph of Iris, a young Jewish woman he has been dating, whom he intends to marry. When Dorothy remarks that he has not brought Iris to meet her, Coleman uncomfortably admits that he has told Iris that his parents are dead. Realizing that Coleman means never to reveal his identity to Iris and intends to cut himself off entirely from his family and roots, Dorothy sadly berates her son and, with a broken heart, bids him farewell. Later that evening, Walter visits Coleman and orders him never to see Dorothy again. In the present, Ernestine relates that she was the only family member to keep in touch with Coleman throughout the years, but never understood why he felt it necessary to lie his entire life. Ernestine and Nathan wonder if Coleman ever revealed his past to anyone. After the publication of Nathan’s book on Coleman’s controversial life, Nathan seeks out Les to let him know that he holds Les responsible for Coleman and Faunia’s death. Les responds that no one else will ever really know the truth. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.