ONCE UPON A TIME IN SOUTH CENTRAL L.A… IT AIN’T NO FAIRY TALE.
John Singleton’s first film has become a classic portrait of African-American youth, following Tre in South Central Los Angeles from childhood to manhood, enduring violence, guns, racist cops and the consequences of broken families – but there’s also typical teenage issues and love in the shape of a father who’s trying to do the right thing. Cuba Gooding, Jr. is likable as Tre, becoming increasingly sick of his neighborhood; Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett are compelling as his parents, far from being caricatures. The genuine locations and heartfelt treatment of inner-city problems stand apart from most films of that era.
1991-U.S. 107 min. Color. Produced by Steve Nicolaides. Written and directed by John Singleton. Cast: Laurence Fishburne (Jason ”Furious” Styles, Jr.), Ice Cube (Darrin ”Doughboy” Baker), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Tre Styles), Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Tyra Ferrell… Angela Bassett, Regina King.
Trivia: Ice Cube and King’s first movie. Will Smith was allegedly considered for a role.
Last word: “I think I was living this film before I ever thought about making it. Growing up in my early teens, I batted around with three friends, Jimmy and Michael, and our other friend who was also named Michael; his nickname was Fatback – he was heavy-set – and in the movie we called him Doughboy. As I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life, and cinema became an option, it was just natural that this was probably gonna be my first film. In fact, when I applied to USC Film School they had a thing that asked you to write three ideas for films. And one of them was called ‘Summer of ’84’, which was about growing up in South Central LA.” (Singleton, Vice)