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Coonskin

Rating:R
Genre:Animation, Drama, Animation, Drama, Animation, Drama
Release Date:August 20, 1975
Running time:100 minutes
Cast:Barry White, Charles Gordone, Scatman Crothers, Philip Michael Thomas, Danny Rees, Barry White, Charles Gordone, Scatman Crothers, Philip Michael Thomas, Danny Rees, Barry White, Charles Gordone, Scatman Crothers, Philip Michael Thomas, Danny Rees, Barry White, Charles Gordone, Scatman Crothers, Philip Michael Thomas, Danny Rees
Director:Ralph Bakshi, Ralph Bakshi, Ralph Bakshi, Ralph Bakshi
Writer:Ralph Bakshi, Ralph Bakshi, Ralph Bakshi, Ralph Bakshi

Description: Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic helmer Ralph Bakshi subsequently directed the über-controversial animated feature Coonskin (aka Streetfight, 1975). Bakshi opens and closes the film with a live-action tale that stars Scatman Crothers, Miami Vice's Philip Michael Thomas, Charles Gordone, and Barry White; it recounts the adventures of three African-American men who escape from prison and are later gathered up. In between, an animated tale has animal characters with stereotypically black traits -- Brother Rabbit (voiced by Thomas), Brother Fox (voiced by Gordone), and Brother Bear (voiced by White) -- entering a white-dominated ghetto environment and diverging into different paths; one becomes a crime overlord, the second sells the first out to La Cosa Nostra, and the third establishes himself as a media-exploited sports icon. Completely misread as a racist work upon release, the film actually entails Bakshi's satirical excoriation of bigotry via the tongue-in-cheek use of black urban stereotypes. The director laces the film with profane ghetto dialogue and street slang; though animated, this is not a picture for children. Variety wrote of the work, Beyond Bakshi's cinematic style, his stories seem haunted by a worldliness that is torn between cynicism and tortured humanism. There is heart in his plots, so superficial putdown is totally absent. What is present [is] the evidently sincere empathy of a social surgeon. The legendary Albert S. Ruddy (The Godfather, Cloud Nine) produced.~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide

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