Sophisticated Gents

Director: Harry Falk
Screenwriters: Melvin Van Peebles, John A. Williams

Institute History

  • 1990 Sundance Film Festival


A group of black men, who once belonged to the same youth sports club, stage a reunion to honor their former coach. Time has taken its toll on everyone, and the differences in their life-styles emerge as the celebration unfolds.

This television miniseries was made in 1979 and sat on the shelf until 1981, a fact that demonstrates how little network television has been able to encompass a black American voice. With its large ensemble cast and interwoven plot lines, Sophisticated Gents is typical of the miniseries form, but distinctly original in the treatment of its content. The boys of the club have gone on to careers ranging from blue-collar worker to college professor, city commissioner to criminal. Their vocations, their marriages, their hopes and their failures are explored in greater or lesser detail, and the approach to their problems and joys is decidedly black. The language. the conflicts, the attitudes are colorful, and it is remarkable even today to find a television expression of black life that rings as true. Van Peebles plays the pimp whose outlaw life provides key dramatic moments.

Adapted from "The Jr. Bachelor Society" by John A. Williams

— Betsy McLane

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]