Yesterday marked the passing of award winning film director John Singleton. He passed away in a Los Angeles hospital after a stroke at only 51 years of age. Singleton became the youngest director to receive an Oscar nomination at the ripe age of 24 years old and has had many successes in his career.
Here are a few films that truly showcase the magical touch that he had:
Boyz n the Hood
A 23 year old John Singleton sold the script of Boyz n the Hood to Columbia Pictures with the stipulation that he be brought onboard as the director. Despite their apprehension to have him direct, he refused to let the film be helmed by someone from “Idaho or Encino” that does not actually know what it’s like to be from South Central L.A. His directorial debut made $56.1 million dollars on a 6.5 million dollar budget, making it the most financially successful film on returns in 1991. The film stars phenomenal actors like Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne. It also served as the acting debut of future stars Ice Cube and Regina King.
One of Samuel L. Jackson’s most famous roles comes in the form of Singleton’s reboot of the John Shaft film series. The film may have yielded some less than astonishing returns in the box office, but also provided another villain role for Christian Bale who was fresh off of his success from American Psycho. The original idea Singleton pitched was to have this Shaft be the son of Richard Roundtree’s character and have the two work together. The studio would not fund this idea, but considering the upcoming 2019 film Shaft it seems they have since changed their tune. Witness some serious hard-nosed cop work from a bad mutha-SHUT YO MOUTH!
One of Singleton’s more quiet films is the crime drama Four Brothers. It is a gritty reboot of the 1960’s western The Sons of Katie Elder starring John Wayne and Dean Martin. In the remake, four adopted brothers return to Detroit for the funeral of their mother. While home, they dig deeper into who killed her and decide to take matters of revenge into their own hands. The film brings on a star studded cast of Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Garrett Hedlund and Andre 3000 as the titular characters. This one is probably my favorite Singleton flick.
Lastly, no Singleton list is complete without the cult classic Baby Boy. A film that is highly regarded to this day. It explores the life of a young, hard headed guy from the hood named Jody who is making some less than great life choices involving his child, baby mother and street life. Obstacles roll his way at every turn and chronicle a rough and honest journey in this life. This was the last film Singleton wrote himself and was the film that propelled Tyrese Gibson and Taraji P. Henson into another tier of stardom. It is said that Tupac Shakur was Singleton’s first choice for Jody back when the script was written.
John Singleton directed many other successful films. Namely, he and Tyrese united yet again for 2 Fast 2 Furious, the second chapter in the long and undying Fast & Furious franchise. He took lead in the 90’s romance drama Poetic Justice starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. That relationship with the Jackson family was parlayed into a directorial credit for Michael Jackson’s Remember The Time and Dangerous: The Short Films. To date he has won 13 decorated film awards and holds several Oscar nominations. One of the most successful directors in film and one of the founding fathers of filmmaking for the African American. Whatever your reason may be, find some time to go back and enjoy the works of a director who gave his all for the artform he loved. Rest in peace, John.
What is your favorite John Singleton film? Will you be seeing the new Shaft movie in theaters?