Why 'The Green Book' with Its Echoes of Greek Myth, Huckleberry Finn & Cyrano de Bergerac Is a Must See Movie of 2018
One critic calls it Driving Miss Daisy in reverse. But for my money The Green Book goes a lot deeper as it takes a long, hard look at what ails us—and hints at what’s required to heal our national divide. Even though it’s set during the early 1960s before passage of the Civil Rights Act, the movie’s themes could not be more relevant to today.
If you’ve never heard of the actual Green Book, which gives the film its name, you’ll learn during this two-hour excursion that even high-profile African-Americans were not allowed to eat or sleep in “whites only” establishments when they performed in the American Deep South. The film won’t tell you this, but it was a Harlem post-office employee, Victor Green, who published the book. Between 1936 and 1966, the Green Book was the essential guide for black travelers, providing a city-by-city list of restaurants, hotels, and gas stations where you would not be humiliated or harmed.
For years now, I’ve wanted to take one of those Viking River Cruises advertised at the beginning of Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall, and other Masterpiece programs on PBS. So it felt good to find myself finally peering at a ribbon of blue-green water from my own stateroom window. The sun shone upon the glittering current like a Greek medallion, and I drifted into its light with the kind of elation that usually comes only while writing.
Imagine my surprise to find upon waking that so vivid an experience was a dream. The master bedroom felt chilly and damp. I reached for the phone and asked Siri for the temperature. Mid-forties, she chirped.
On Cinco de Mayo? Was she kidding?
I like big books, and I cannot lie. My background includes talk radio, newspapers and TV news. I've hosted a morning-drive classical music program on the California coast and published nationally in Reader's Digest, the Christian Science Monitor, and Playboy. I've won awards for my journalism and my fiction. One of my essays even made it into an anthology for college English courses. For real? Yes, for real.
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