Ashot at a strong, informative if fictional look at early black filmmakers and the white disregard of their talents is frittered away by writer Daryl G. Nickens’ overly extended teleplay, by Helaine Head’s loose direction and by overacting by one of the principals. The story is important and deserves professionalism; “You Must Remember This” fails to connect.
Plot involves teenage Ella (Maria Celedonio) delving into the past of her father’s Uncle Buddy (Robert Guillaume), a barber who lives with Ella and her parents (Tim Reid, Vonetta McGee).
When a locked trunk arrives from a former femme star of black films, Uncle Buddy insists he doesn’t want anything to do with it. Ella, using plot privilege , pries open the locked trunk.
Star of the basketball team, Ella hogs the ball and lets the team down. Being the heroine apparently gives her license to be a bad sport, to hurt Uncle Buddy by invading his privacy, to let down friends to satisfy her curiosity about her great uncle’s career.
A onetime top producer-director-writer in race films, Uncle Buddy and his bio suggest powerful inherent drama; instead, the vidpic spins its wheels about Ella’s basketball schedule and trying to show how Ella learns to share. Guillaume, fine in the barbershop milieu, badly milks dramatic sequences, while Celedonio plays Ella with little subtlety.
On the other hand, such stalwarts as Reid and McGee, Daphne Maxwell Reid (the coach), Whitman Mayo, George Kirby (as Buddy’s barbershop partner), Brock Peters (outstanding as a projectionist) and Roscoe Lee Browne (fine interp of a onetime film actor) give the drama whatever stature it attains.
Location filming around L.A. is OK, but camerawork by Bernard Salzman and Hal Trussell showing little ingenuity in setups. Joanne D’Antonio’s editing is satisfactory, and Harold Wheeler’s score is excellent.