16 August 2006 | stevenfallonnyc
Non-PC gritty race classic
Having seen this years ago on late-night TV, I have sought this one out for many years. I finally came across the uncut theatrical version, and "Halls of Anger" definitely stands up as a strong picture with a harsh look at race relations.
Calvin Lockhart, a black ex-basketball star now a teacher, teaches in a "good" school who is offered a job as Vice Principal in a bad "black school" full of violence, and because whites are to be bussed in there, with the hope that he can stop any trouble before it starts. The kids love him, but he is soon faced with the dilemma of being called an "Uncle Tom" because he sides with the whites sometimes, if they are in the right. but he is protective of the blacks, especially from the "man" being any school administration.
Jeff Bridges stars as the main white kid, and he is just fantastic. Rob Reiner is a secondary character, but it is very odd seeing "meathead" use the word "nigger" and being against the blacks, as opposed to his very liberal character on "All In The Family" that we all know him by. The blacks throughout the film as shown as the troublemakers; they simply will not accept white kids in their school, and constantly give the whites a very hard time. When the white girl gets off the school bus, one black guy says he wants to "lick vanilla ice cream" and she hasn't even stepped in the school for the first time yet. One black kid in particular, "J.T.," leads the school in the revolt against the whites. he seems to be the only intelligent black kid in the school - the rest seemingly cannot read or understand simply words unless they are "black" in usage. This portrayal of blacks would definitely not fly with today's audiences.
There are some troubling scenes in the movie, mainly showing the black's racism, and in the last amazing twenty minutes, there is a particularly brutal scene in the girl's locker room that was severely cut for television. This scene seems to stand on its own as there is no mention or repercussion of it anywhere else in the film.
"Halls of Anger" is definitely worth a viewing especially if you can get a hold of the uncut version. The music and atmosphere take you right back to some very troubling times.