... elegant and well-made ... Some prolific nonfiction writers slowly grow bleary; you sense them, in their later books, going through the motions, rounding off corners. Haygood, on the other hand, has become a master craftsman, one whose joinery is seamless ... This is sweeping history, but in Haygood’s hands it feels crisp, urgent and pared down. He doesn’t try to be encyclopedic. He takes a story he needs, tells it well, and ties it to the next one. He carries you along on dispassionate analysis and often novelistic detail ... As you read, you may find yourself making lists of films to watch or rewatch ... Stale language begins to creep in toward the end. It’s past time for an ambitious young copy editor to invent a search widget called ClicheCatcher™ to routinely run on manuscripts before they go to press ... Yet this is important, spirited popular history. Like a good movie, it pops from the start. (Haygood was wise to omit an introduction.) Like a good movie, too, it comes full circle.
Colorization, a well-constructed and deeply engaging chronicle...breaks significant new ground in that takes in the full sweep of on-screen portrayals of Black Americans (sometimes by Black American filmmakers, sometimes not), spanning years beyond other indispensable accounts ... Colorization teems with great stories of Black cinematic struggles and triumphs that bring a century of Hollywood outrages and inroads vividly and fearlessly to life ... Haygood also describes the dazzling rise and tragic fall of 1950s Black actress Dorothy Dandridge, and devotes a particularly fascinating chapter to the parallel lives, career arcs, and close friendship of Black America’s two most recognized mid-century crossover stars, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier ... Colorization goes to a place no earlier book on Black cinema in America could have possibly gone: reporting that the most impactful film of 2020 was shot not in Hollywood but in Minneapolis, not on a movie camera but on an iPhone, as it captured the brutal murder of a defenseless Black man, George Floyd, with his neck under the knee of white policeman Derek Chauvin.
The stories that Wil Haygood tells—of pioneers, mavericks, rebels—are as gripping as anything that one might hope to see on the big screen ... Haygood, a biographer of Sammy Davis Jr. and others, is a scrupulous researcher who is ever mindful of how what's happening on-screen mirrors what's going on off of it ... Haygood is also an animated writer...and a wry social critic ... Colorization is a major undertaking and a major achievement.