The Story of a Three Day Pass

Feb 5, 2022, 02:00 PM Museum of Fine Arts Houston $9.00 Get Tickets

Houston Cinema Arts Society partners with Museum of Fine Arts Houston and Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) to present f Melvin Van Peebles's directorial debut, The Story of a Three Day Pass after a virtual engagement last year.

Unable to break into a segregated Hollywood, filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles (1932–2021) traveled to France, taught himself the language, and wrote books in French. One of them, La Permission, became his innovative feature debut: The Story of a Three-Day Pass. Channeling the exuberance of the French New Wave, the drama about a Black U.S. soldier (Harry Baird) stationed in France who begins a whirlwind romance with a White woman (Nicole Berger) served as a commentary on France’s attitudes about race.

Melvin Van Peebles’s edgy, angsty, romantic first feature could never have been made in America. Unable to break into a segregated Hollywood, Van Peebles decamped to France, taught himself the language, and wrote a number of books in French, one of which, La permission, would become his stylistically innovative feature debut. Turner (Harry Baird), an African American soldier stationed in France, is granted a promotion and a three-day leave from base by his casually racist commanding officer and heads to Paris, where he finds whirlwind romance with a white woman (Nicole Berger)—but what happens to their love when his furlough is over? Channeling the brash exuberance of the French New Wave, Van Peebles creates an exploration of the psychology of an interracial relationship as well as a commentary on France’s contradictory attitudes about race that is playful, sarcastic, and stingingly subversive by turns, and that laid the foundation for the scorched-earth cinematic revolution he would unleash just a few years later with Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.

Country, Year France, 1967
DirectorMelvin Van Peebles
WriterMelvin Van Peebles
CastHarry Baird, Nicole Berger, Pierre Doris, Christian Martin
ProducerGuy Belfond, Gaston Doha
LanguageEnglish, English Subtitles, French
Runtime87 MINS, SECS
SubjectFilm
Event TypeFilm