Undoubtedly the biggest surprise among the first 25 films selected in 1989 for inclusion in the National Film Registry, this visually beautiful and moving, if somewhat melodramatic, story of a black teenager growing up in Kansas in the 1920s was the first feature film by a black director to
be financed by a major Hollywood studio. Gordon Parks directed, produced, wrote, and composed the score of this adaptation of his 1963 semi-autobiographical novel after a highly successful career as an acclaimed photojournalist.
Essentially a coming-of-age tale, the film focuses on smalltown Kansas denizen Newt Winger (Johnson). Newt is shown learning about sex (from a prosti...