(1995) Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes. Burbank, CA:
Hollywood Pictures. 119 min.
Twin brother codirectors Albert and Alan Hughes planned their first film, the 1991 ghetto
crime drama Menace II Society as a response to John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood, which
they considered wimpy and moralistic. They set their sights on The Deer Hunter in this
ambitious follow-up, and they just about pull it off. Larenz Tate (from Why Do Fools
Fall in Love) plays Anthony Curtis, an open-hearted African American teenager who gets
shipped out to Vietnam with several of his pals, witnesses unspeakable horrors, and
then struggles to readjust to civilian life. The evolving textures of life in a declining
inner-city neighborhood over a period of a decade are seamlessly evoked, and there's
enough nuanced character development and personal interaction for a seven-hour miniseries.
Still in their early 20s, the Hughes brothers are already poised and masterful moviemakers;
they cover an enormous amount of historical and emotional ground, and every twist and
turn is crystal clear. They betray their inexperience only at the very end, in an
elaborately staged heist sequence that, while stunningly executed, feels a bit
desperate, as if they were reaching blindly for a big payoff. Chris Tucker (Rush Hour)
has a startling supporting role as a kid who becomes junkie during the war, and never
quite recovers. David Chute (Amazon.com)
"Hughes Brothers' 'Dead Presidents' Captures Lives Of Black Soldiers In Vietnam War And
Their Return Home." (October 30, 1995). Jet, p. 60-61.
James, Caryn. "The Evolution of a Very Confused Young Man."
New York Times, September 29, 1995, p. C28.
Masters, Kim. "'Dead Presidents' Precedent: The Heist Is Only Half of the Story,
Says the Man Who Pulled It Off." Washington Post, October 15, 1995, p. G1.
"33rd New York Film Festival." [Advertisement]
New York Times, September 10, 1995, p. H44.