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Kings of the Evening (DVD Review)

5 Oct, 2010 By: Angelique Flores

Street 10/12/10
Box Office $0.1 million
$24.99 DVD
Rated ‘PG’ for thematic elements, language throughout, some violence and smoking.
Stars Tyson Beckford, Lynn Whitfield, Bruce McGill, Linara Washington, Glynn Turman, James Russo, Steven Williams.

Based on actual events, Kings of the Evening offers a story of hope set against the Depression in the racist Deep South.

Homer (Tyson Beckford) has just been released from jail, a place he landed in when he stole tires in an attempt to get money to take care of his mom.

He happens to meet Benny at a restaurant. Cocky, but still kindhearted, Benny is jobless himself and brings Homer to the boarding house where he lives.

Gracie, a tired woman who has seen better days, runs the boarding house. The other boarders, Clarence and Lucy, are just as down as the rest of the group. Clarence is older and always waiting for his late government checks to help pay the bills. Young Lucy works in a sweatshop as a seamstress with an oppressive owner.

The one night that offers a glimmer of hope for the town’s men is Sunday, when they gather in the social hall, showing off their best duds and their finest strut in a contest for a prize of money or food. But more important for these men is the honor of being “king of the evening.”

While Beckford’s character seems at first the catalyst for the talented ensemble cast, the former model is overshadowed by often gripping performances. This period piece sets itself apart by illuminating the South African tradition of the fashion contest, not intended to show off clothes but rather restore some dignity and respect to these men and offer some sort of respite from the racist, impoverished conditions in which they live.

It would have been nice to see some bonus material on this South African tradition and how it affected black Americans during that time.

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