WUSTL Digital Gateway Image Collections & Exhibitions

Urban Depictions

         This exhibit examines how Hollywood and Independent film companies portrayed urban landscapes differently in the 1970s. The films that I examine include The Spook Who Sat By the Door (1973), an independent film about a Black nationalist who gets hired by the CIA and then takes what he learns back to the streets of Chicago in order to train a guerilla group known as the Freedom Fighters.  Boss Nigger (1975), a western which is also an independently produced film, is about black bounty hunter that takes control of a white frontier town and attempts to keep peace despite his racist enemies. Uptown Saturday Night (1974) is produced by Hollywood. The movie follows two men as they go through the city on a search for a lottery ticket that has been stolen from them. The depiction of what urban life is like in each film depends greatly on whether it was produced independently or by a Hollywood production company. The Spook Who Sat By the Door and Boss Nigger, which were both produced independently, explore issues of racial tensions, and were mainly marketed to all black audiences. In contrast, Uptown Saturday Night, which was produced by a Hollywood production company, has a limited view of the racial issues experienced in an urban environment and works more to appeal to a white mass audience.