I originally posted this over at my pop culture blog Uncanny Pop last year.
In honor of Black History Month and Valentines Day, here’s a list of 29 black films all about love (click here to see part 2). The films are in order by the year that they were released.
1. Paris Blues (1961)
Ram Bowen and Eddie Cook are two expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris where, unlike America at the time, Jazz musicians are celebrated and racism is a non-issue. When they meet and fall in love with two young American girls, Lillian and Connie, who are vacationing in France, Ram and Eddie must decide whether they should move back to America with them, or stay in Paris for the freedom it allows them.
2. Nothing But A Man (1964)
African-American rail worker Duff Anderson (Ivan Dixon) has left his 4-year old son with a nanny, and now drifts through life with little ambition. Duff’s outlook on life changes when he meets schoolteacher Josie Dawson (Abbey Lincoln), a gentle preacher’s daughter. Although Josie’s father (Stanley Greene) disapproves of Duff’s lifestyle, the two eventually marry. Duff and Josie struggle to hold on to their marriage as Duff must face up to the oppressive racism of 1960s America.
3. For Love of Ivy (1968)
Two Long Island teens force a roving gambler (Sidney Poitier) to date their maid (Abbey Lincoln), to keep her from quitting.
4. Lady Sings The Blues (1972)
Pop star Diana Ross portrays legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday in this biographical drama. Beginning with Holiday’s traumatic youth, the film depicts her early attempts at a singing career and her eventual rise to stardom, as well as her difficult relationship with Louis McKay (Billy Dee Williams), her boyfriend and manager. Casting a shadow over even Holiday’s brightest moments is the vocalist’s severe drug addiction, which threatens to end both her career and her life.
5. Claudine (1974)
Claudine (Diahann Carroll) is a single mother in New York City who endures an exhausting commute to the suburbs where she works as a maid for wealthy families. In one carefully tended white community, she meets Roop (James Earl Jones), a charismatic but irresponsible garbage collector. Romance quickly ensues, but Claudine doubts that their relationship is good for her six children, and Rupert, despite his good nature, is reluctant to take on fatherhood.
6. Mahogany (1975)
Struggling Chicago fashion design student Tracy (Diana Ross) goes from rags to riches when a chance meeting with hotshot fashion photographer Sean (Anthony Perkins) in the department store where she works leads to a runway life as a model in Rome. Tracy’s overnight success and strong ambitions bring her professional success as a designer, but her diva antics may destroy her relationship with social activist Brian (Billy Dee Williams), as well as her respect in the fashion world.
7. Coming to America (1988)
Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the prince of a wealthy African country and wants for nothing, except a wife who will love him in spite of his title. To escape an arranged marriage, Akeem flees to America accompanied by his persnickety sidekick, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), to find his queen. Disguised as a foreign student working in fast food, he romances Lisa (Shari Headley), but struggles with revealing his true identity to her and his marital intentions to his king father (James Earl Jones).
8. The Bodyguard (1992)
Best-selling pop diva Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) has a stalker whose obsession has risen to the level of disturbing threats. At the urging of her manager (Gary Kemp), Rachel hires former secret service agent Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) as her bodyguard. Initially resented and treated with disdain for his hard-nosed security procedures, Farmer soon becomes an integral part of Rachel’s inner circle. As they spend more time together, client and protector become closer still.
9. Boomerang (1992)
A cocky ad executive, Marcus (Eddie Murphy) has a reputation as a ladies’ man. However, Marcus gets a taste of his own medicine when a merger finds him working under the beautiful Jacqueline (Robin Givens), who has a similarly cavalier attitude about romance. Marcus and Jacqueline become involved, but he is put off by her noncommittal approach to their relationship. Meanwhile, Marcus also begins to develop feelings for the pretty Angela (Halle Berry), who is more thoughtful than Jacqueline.
10. Poetic Justice (1993)
Still grieving after the murder of her boyfriend, hairdresser Justice (Janet Jackson) writes poetry to deal with the pain of her loss. Unable to get to Oakland to attend a convention because of her broken-down car, Justice gets a lift with her friend, Iesha (Regina King) and Iesha’s postal worker boyfriend, Chicago (Joe Torry). Along for the ride is Chicago’s co-worker, Lucky (Tupac Shakur), to whom Justice grows close after some initial problems. But is she ready to open her heart again?
11. The Inkwell (1994)
Drew (Larenz Tate) is a quiet 16-year-old still recovering from the trauma of accidentally burning his own house down. Drew’s parents, Kenny (Joe Morton) and Brenda (Suzzanne Douglas), take the family to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to vacation with their wealthy relatives for the summer. On the island, Drew discovers an upper-class black community that centers on parties held at a beach called the Inkwell. There, he falls for two different women (Jada Pinkett, Adrienne-Joi Johnson).
12. Jason’s Lyric (1994)
In a violent, drug-infested neighborhood in Houston, Jason (Allen Payne) dreams of something better. He works as a TV salesman and helps out his mother, and tries to steer his criminally minded brother, Joshua (Bokeem Woodbine), onto the right path. But real joy enters Jason’s life when he meets Lyric (Jada Pinkett). As their romance develops, Jason starts to see a future for himself — while also being forced to confront a painful secret from his past.
13. Mr. and Mrs. Loving (1996)
In the American South, a black woman and the white man she loves are hounded by racist police and inflexible family members. Mildred “Bean” Jeter (Lela Rochon) and Richard Loving (Timothy Hutton) have fallen hard for one another, but an antiquated statute still in effect in the 1960s says that their relationship is against the law. Their fight to forge a life together puts their freedom at risk as they wage a legal battle that takes their case to the Supreme Court.
14. Love Jones (1997)
Two urban African-Americans, Darius (Larenz Tate), an aspiring writer, and Nina (Nia Long), an aspiring photographer, share an instant connection after a chance meeting at a Chicago club. The two bond over music, photography and poetry, and eventually begin a torrid romance. However, when Nina decides to move to New York and mend her relationship with her ex-fiancé, Marvin (Khalil Kain), it leaves Darius heartbroken, and the couple’s future in jeopardy.