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Director:Mary Pat Kelly
Cast:Reggie Austin, Vernel Bagneris, Marcus Chait, Ossie Davis
Release Date:2005
Genre:Drama, Historical

By Bret McCabe | Posted 9/21/2005

Jutting off the good intentions-paved road to hell you’ll find the spur of hopeful failures. There, among Susan B. Anthony dollars and French rock ‘n’ roll, you’ll find Mary Pat Kelly’s Proud, the numbingly earnest story of the men of the destroyer escort USS Mason, the only World War II naval vessel that had an all African-American crew. Told in voice-over flashback from the point of view of aged veteran Lorenzo DuFau (the late, great Ossie Davis), Proud is a jingoistic after-school special that fumbles over ham-fisted narrative devices to stumble through its vital, fascinating tale. DeFau tells his soldier’s story to his grandson Larry (Albert Jones) and his friends—aspiring musician Marcus (Jeffrey Nash) and African-American doctoral student Kevin (Eric LaRay Harvey)—while flipping through a scrapbook. As Davis’ stentorian voice recounts DeFau’s memories of being a young enlistee, it’s 1943 and Jones appears as the young DuFau and his college friends as his mates, James Graham (Harvey) and Gordon Buchanan (Jones), who together confront American racism and wartime peril. The bulk of Proud charts the Mason’s war navigations before coming back to the present in time to heal three generations of father-son dysfunctions and stage a commendation ceremony nearly 60 years after its original recommendation. Make no mistake—the men of the Mason deserve every ounce of praise they belatedly received and need to have their story told—but they also deserve a much, much better movie.

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