“Two Trains Running“, (or, “Two Trains Runnin’“) directed by Samuel D. Pollard and written by Benjamin Hedin, is a docudrama, partly animated, showing two parallel stories in 1964 Mississippi.
One is the search for two Blues singers (Son House and Skip James) in the countryside, by young white blues record collectors. The other is the tragic outcome of the voting registration drive that led to the murder of three civil rights activists from the North (James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner; the last two were white).
On one level, the film shows what the popular music world of the early 60s was like. I collected classical records at a time when high fidelity and record wear abatement was coming into vogue. Some of the labels, like Folkways, are shown. Much of the literature was locked up in old 78s.
One of the men was Phil Spiro, who practically flunked out of MIT but went poor in order to do his own music. He had a day job programming the first IBM mainframe. Tom Martin provides the voice of Jim Farley.
Then there was the class of white college students at northern universities. Leadership wanted white college kids, offspring of those in power, involved so the country would understand what was going on with the Civil Rights movement. People were trained in Ohio in how to do community organizing and how to deal with the dangers posed not only by the Ku Klux Klan but also with corrupt police in small towns, including Philadelphia, MS at that time. Â The unwillingness of the Johnson administration (including J Edgar Hoover) to enforce desegregation laws in the deep south would not start to turn around until the three young men gave up their lives, a sacrifice as real as anything in Vietnam. They did not rise from the dead, but maybe we should have expected them to. Mr. Goodman’s mother is interviewed.
The film mentions the 2013 Supreme Court decision allowing states more leeway in reintroducing voting requirements.
The film could be compared to the 1988 film “Mississippi Burning“ (Orion) by Alan Parker, with Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, which I saw at the AMC Uptown in Washington at that time.
I personally visited Philadelphia, MS in 1985, and Selma, AL in 2014.
1. This speaker also told me that the first effort to integrate the military by race started with demonstrations in 1941, not just with Truman (HBO, Gary Sinese in 1996) in 1948 (connected eventually to the battle of “don’t ask don’t tell” starting in 1993).
|Name:||“Two Trains Runnin'”|
|Director, writer:||Samuel D. Pollard|
|When and how viewed:||Filmfest DC, Landmark E St. 2017/4/27|
(Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 11 PM EDT)