Was Uptight an appropriate remake of the Informer?

After watching Uptight and reading and watching the Informer, I believe the Informer plot was not an appropriate medium to tell the story of the black revolutionaries. Despite some superficial similarities, the Irish and Black causes had different circumstances that were not adequately taken into consideration. One glaring example where this can be found is in each informant’s motive. Gypo informs because he seemingly “needs” the money, whether for basic necessities or for passage to America where there are better opportunities to succeed. Gypo meditates on his decision before pulling the trigger. Tank informs out of spite, in the heat of the moment, not because he needs the money to survive or to help the Black cause in some noble way. Both stories are centered around betrayal, but it is unclear what the greater purpose of Tank’s betrayal was. This difference in motive also highlights the different lenses that the stories are viewed—one national and the other racial. Things that would be considered endearing and humorous or even neutral qualities for the Irish would be considered disdainful for the Black community. For example, association with crime (stealing of guns), Tank’s degeneracy and absent fatherhood, Clarence’s relationship with the police, and Laurie’s association with welfare and prostitution are all rooted in Jim Crow era stereotypes like Sambo, Uncle Tom, and Jezebel. Although the Uptight movie was not meant to be a mockery of Black people, it is still viewed through a racial lens that likens the behavior of an individual to the behavior of the community.

If the purpose of Uptight was to be some sort of social commentary, it seems as if the message got muddled within the plot. Was it meant to give a view into the inner working and conflicts of the Black Power movement? Was it meant to show us the mental toll of the movement on those within the organization, similar to Gypo’s mental devolution in the Informer? Further, did Jules Dassin, of white Ukrainian heritage, being the director largely contribute to why this remake missed the mark due to his lack of understanding of both communities? Despite being a part of the black community, I am left with more question with this film than the Irish film it was adapted from.

2 Replies to “Was Uptight an appropriate remake of the Informer?”

  1. This blog post makes some really good points, and I largely agree that taking an original Irish story and remaking it in the context of the Civil Rights movement in America is a poor idea that is likely to misrepresent the truth of history. One thought I had about the Uptight remake is that the entire story of The Informer is based upon the Irish cultural attitude towards informers during the specific historical context of the civil war. That’s not to say that Black people don’t also have a cultural attitude towards those who inform, but I find that Uptight fell short because it was not built as an original story. I think this is part of the reason why we don’t really understand Tank’s motivation for the betrayal.

  2. Hi Lola! I think that you make some really interesting points as to why The Informer was an unfit plot to utilize in Uptight when telling the stories of black revolutionaries. The point that you made regarding the different circumstances which caused the Gypo characters’ betrayals was very interesting and a point which I had not considered prior to reading your blog post. I believe that with modern adaptation(s), there will always have to be changes made to the original plot/characters in order to successfully translate an older plot into a modern setting, but I think that you are correct in your argument that even these changes were not enough to tailor the plot of The Informer to the stories told within Uptight.

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