Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
This essay offers a comparative analysis of the ways that Isaac Julien's Looking for Langston (1989) and Rodney Evans's Brother to Brother (2005) inscribe Richard Bruce Nugent's landmark short story "Smoke, Lilies, and Jade" (1926). Both films are examples of how "Smoke," which was first published in the short-lived but infamous journal FIRE!!, now functions as much more than an artifact from the Harlem Renaissance's dynamic print culture. As I contend through this analysis, "Smoke" is a central diegetic element in both films. It enables Looking's visual depiction of the sojourn that Nugent's protagonist Alex has with his male lover "Beauty" and Brother's depiction of an intergenerational collaboration that honors Nugent as a black gay male artist. Through honorific interpretations of "Smoke, Lilies, and Jade," Looking for Langston and Brother to Brother affirm a black gay print culture as indispensable to black gay film.
Copyright ©ESR, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 2013