Melvin Van Peebles came into local prominence when, as a cable car driver, he wrote a prose love song to the San Francisco public entitled The Big Heart, with photographs by Jerry Stoll (who went on to become a filmmaker himself). The immense success of the book changed Van Peebles' life, however, for he was fired soon afterward, and he journeyed to Paris where he began to write novels. Today, Melvin Van Peebles is known in France as "an American novelist," but his love for motion pictures has also turned him into a cinéaste, and it is a pleasure to welcome him back with his first feature film. Story of a 3-Day Pass describes the experiences of a Black American soldier, Turner, who is given a weekend pass by his captain, in order that he may enjoy the sites of Paris. Quite by chance, he meets a French girl, Miriam, and they take a trip to Brittany together. The simple context of a love affair is not really the subject of this film—it is really a sentimental comedy in which racial problems are treated with the subtlety and wry humor one might expect from a black writer-director. Van Peebles understands the attitudes of the expatriate African American as well as the objective wisdom of the French heroine, and the fluctuations between dream and reality are very much a part of contemporary life, with its painful contretemps, its bewildering disillusionments. —Albert Johnson, Festival 1967
April 7, 2017 6:00 p.m.