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Director Recalls Seminal Urban Film <I>Boyz N the Hood</I>

24 Aug, 2003 By: Fred Topel

More than 12 years after its theatrical release, John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood gets a two-disc special edition DVD. Streeting Sept. 2 from Columbia TriStar, the collection includes director's commentary, deleted scenes and documentaries.

Singleton said his goal was to share the reality of the film, not to present a sanitized version of its making. In one documentary, Singleton and his cast share stories about cast members who are deceased or in prison. “There's the kid that had a pacifier in his mouth,” Singleton said. “His name was Dedrick Gobert. He was a good friend of mine. He was in my first three movies. He was very much into street racing culture — used to race cars around Riverside, like Fast and the Furious. He was murdered by a Vietnamese gang.

“The guy who shoots Ricky with the red cap, he's on death row right now because he killed a lot of people. He wasn't a gangster when he made the movie. He was just some middle-class kid. Once he was in Boyz N the Hood, he gained the lore of trying to be this guy because it gave him fame. He was a friend of mine.”

The DVD also will analyze the controversy that surrounded the film's release, with shootings at movie theaters. “Three months previous to Boyz N the Hood, March of 1991, New Jack City opened in Westwood. It opened in one theater … and that was at the time when Westwood was the center of all youth culture. All the kids would catch the bus from South Central to come up, and kids from the Valley would come into Westwood … It [City] showed in one theater and there were not a lot of seats. The weekend previously, Rodney King had just gotten beaten. So the cops were nervous about all those people being in front of the theater anyway, and when the kids saw the cops, they were like, ‘F*** you cops' and an altercation started. So that set the tone for people waiting for Boyz N the Hood: ‘Let's see what happens with this next so-called urban movie.’

Singleton is a fan of DVDs with directors' commentaries, because he can learn why they made certain decisions. As a fan, he feels his own commentaries hold up well. “I think my commentaries are some of the best because I crack jokes, I tell stories … and I don't mince words with how I feel.”

Deleted scenes on the Boyz DVD include moments between Lawrence Fishburne and Ice Cube's characters at the end of the movie. “It was just prolonging the whole tension,” Singleton said. “Sometimes you've got to kill your babies. You've got to be mature.”

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