Soul Man

Soul Man Information

Soul Man is a 1986 comedy film about a man who undergoes racial transformation with pills to qualify for a black-only scholarship at Harvard Law School. It stars C. Thomas Howell, Rae Dawn Chong, Arye Gross, James Earl Jones, Leslie Nielsen, James B. Sikking and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The title refers to the Sam and Dave song "Soul Man". The original soundtrack includes a version performed by Sam Moore and Lou Reed.


The movie's protagonist is Mark Watson (Howell), the pampered son from a rich family who is about to attend Harvard Law School along with his best friend Gordon (Gross). Unfortunately, his father's neurotic psychiatrist talks his patient into having more fun for himself instead of spending money on his son. Faced with the horrifying prospect of having to pay for law school by himself, Mark decides to take up a scholarship, but the only suitable one is for African Americans only. So he decides to cheat by using tanning pills in a larger dose than prescribed to appear as an African American. Watson then sets out for Harvard, naÔvely believing that blacks have no problems at all in American society.

However, once immersed in a black student's life, Mark finds that people are less lenient than he imagined and more prone to see him as a black person instead of a fellow student. He meets a young African-American student named Sarah Walker (Chong), whom he first only flirts with; gradually, however, he genuinely falls in love with her. As it turns out, she was the original candidate for the scholarship which he had usurped, and now she has to work hard as a waitress to support herself and her son George while studying. Slowly, Mark begins to regret his deed, and after a chaotic day"?in which Sarah, his parents (who are not aware of his double life) and his classmate Whitney (Melora Hardin), who is also his landlord's daughter, drop in for surprise visits at the same time"?he drops the charade and openly reveals himself to be white.

The film ends with Mark declaring to his professor (Jones) that he wishes to pay back the scholarship and do charity work to make amends for his fraud, and Sarah decides to give him another chance.

Reception and controversy

The film was widely criticised for blackface. When the film was released, some protests took place within the black community because Howell is in blackface make up throughout most of it. In 2008, New York Press's contrarian critic Armond White would cite the movie as predicting the rise of Barack Obama, who entered the real-life Harvard Law School in 1988, and White declared that Soul Man was "easily the best movie ever set at Harvard."

Box office

Despite the controversy the movie was a box office success.


Defunct mathcore band Botch has a track named "C. Thomas Howell as the 'Soul Man'" on their release, We Are the Romans.

DVD Releases

Soul Man was released for the first time on DVD in March 19, 2002 by Anchor Bay Entertainment.Special Features included a theatrical and teaser trailer along with an audio commentary by director Steve Miner and C.Thomas Howell.

It was released again by Anchor Bay Entertainment as a double feature along with Fraternity Vacation on November 20, 2007.

On October 20, 2011 it was released again as a double feature by Image Entertainment along with 18 Again!.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Soul_Man_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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