January 20, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

Nelson George’s adventures in the screen trade started at the age of 7, when he first saw such deathless classics as Zulu and Planet of the Apes. In the 30-odd years since, as critic, journalist, director, and novelist, George has explored the connections between various outlets of modern black culture. His ninth book, Blackface: Reflections on African-Americans and The Movies, takes a critic’s wistful look back at the origins of a long love affair with film, and assesses the strengths of his early movie heroes (Sidney Poitier and Richard Pryor, in particular). He also offers a critical time line of important black American , films, as well as a cheeky, Evian-by-Evian account of the process of getting a studio commitment to make the 1993 film CB4. For anyone who wants to know what it’s like to be young, gifted, and black in Hollywood, this book is insightful as a chatty personal perspective, and a comically caustic view of the often dispiriting way in which movies, like so much creative sausage, are made. A

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