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The Sky Is Gray (1980)

Not Rated | | Drama | TV Movie
A young boy named James comes of age in 1940s Louisiana and grapples with what it means to be black during a time of racism and poverty. James's mother accompanies her son to town to see ... See full summary »


Stan Lathan


Charles Fuller (teleplay), Ernest J. Gaines (story)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Olivia Cole ... Octavia
James Bond III ... James
Margaret Avery ... Rosemary
Cleavon Little ... Monsieur Bayonne
Chez Lister Chez Lister ... Ty
Susan French ... Helena
Clinton Derricks-Carroll ... Student
Hal Williams ... Preacber
Roberta Jean Williams Roberta Jean Williams ... Young Lady
Hilda Haynes Hilda Haynes ... Woman
Lynn Arden Lynn Arden ... Nurse
Reuben Collins Reuben Collins ... Pimp
Beverly Johnson ... John Lee's Mother
Kenny Johnson Kenny Johnson ... John Lee Williams
Macon McCalman ... Ernest


A young boy named James comes of age in 1940s Louisiana and grapples with what it means to be black during a time of racism and poverty. James's mother accompanies her son to town to see about the boy's nagging toothache, and his journey soon becomes an eye-opening odyssey. Written by alfiehitchie

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Not Rated






Company Credits

Production Co:

Learning in Focus See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Not a bad piece of history
22 April 2005 | by JimmyL5555See all my reviews

This is a slow-paced film, I'll grant you that, and the film really picks up when woman and child are in town. The film takes place, I'm guessing in the first half of the 20th century in the south. This black family (although I'm not sure of the relationships) live in this plantation trying to make ends meet as they work in the fields. (Cleavon Little makes a cameo as a fun guy in their lives.) James, one of the children, has a toothache, and he and his "mama" travel into town to the dentist. Mama keeps him in line when he gets curious about his surroundings (peeking in a store window, etc.). While he waits at the dentist office (where we hear a patient crying in pain as I guess they haven't perfected Novocaine, yet), one asks why we are made to suffer, and a rather handsome student (who is played by "Sliders" star Cleavant Derrick's brother) reveals he's an atheist, which begins the most thought-provoking argument on belief I've ever heard: "I don't believe in God because the wind is pink and grass is black. Words mean nothing. Action is the thing." As he further explains that if you, as a child, were told by your parents the wind was pink, and grass, say, is orange, that's what you'd believe. The nurse then announces the dentist is on break and to come back. So, James and his mama try to get lunch, but they have very little money, so they go to a diner where she gets him some lunch. A man starts up a song on the juke box and begins dancing with Mama. It is unclear what happens next, whether he made a move on her or she pretends he made a move on her as she shoves him away and the two of them briskly leave the diner. As they're walking, they're spotted by a proud store proprietor who asks that the boy does a chore for her as her husband is ill and pays them with a hot meal. She calls ahead to the dentist to let him know James is on his way. After buying meat at the store, they walk back to the dentist. It's not Oscar-winning drama, but it does hold your interest. And in my mind, the highlight of the film is the discussion in the dentist office, which can make up for the rest of the film.

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