A Day in the Life of a Police Officer by Heather Adamson

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By Heather Adamson

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While Island basked in the glow of helping Lee make history, several studios began to jockey for the chance to release what would be his first studio-financed feature film. Lee dusted off his college-era script for It’s Homecoming and prepared to prove to the world that the success of She’s Gotta Have It was no fluke. He would soon learn firsthand what he had always suspected: Hollywood may be all glitz and glamour to the public, but it’s a different matter behind the scenes. 14 Color Craze Lee was definitely sitting on top of the world after the success of She’s Gotta Have It.

We didn’t want to go to the big ones,” he said. After entertaining offers from Circle Films, the Samuel Goldwyn Company, and Orion Pictures, Lee settled on Island Pictures because of its record of success in promoting small films. The company had just enjoyed a major success with Kiss of the Spider Woman and was hungry to build on its reputation for high-quality independent films. Lee was also pleased with Island’s response to She’s Gotta Have It: “They saw it for what it was—a black film—and didn’t want to disguise that fact.

In addition, few opportunities arose for black writers, producers, and directors; almost all of the blaxploitation films were conceived and created by whites. Only two blacks worked consistently behind the camera in the 1970s: Michael Schultz, who directed lightweight comedy fare such as Car Wash and Which Way Is Up? and Sidney Poitier, who directed a series of films starring himself, including Buck and the Preacher, A Piece of the Action, and Let’s Do It Again. When She’s Gotta Have It entered theaters in limited release in 1986, it picked up where films like Nothing But a Man and The Learning Tree left off.

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