Posted on May 22, 2008

Lee: Eastwood Omitted Black Troops in WWII Films

AP, May 21, 2008

Spike Lee is slamming Clint Eastwood over his two recent Iwo Jima movies, saying the filmmaker overlooked the role of black soldiers during World War II.

Lee {snip} said Eastwood’s 2006 movies “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima” were whites-only affairs.

“He did two films about Iwo Jima back to back and there was not one black soldier in both of those films,” Lee said Tuesday at the Cannes Film Festival {snip}.

“Many veterans, African-Americans, who survived that war are upset at Clint Eastwood. In his vision of Iwo Jima, Negro soldiers did not exist. Simple as that. . . ,” Lee said.

One black veteran of the 35-day battle aired his grievances about the Eastwood movies in a 2006 interview with The Guardian, a UK newspaper.

“Of all the movies that have been made of Iwo Jima, you never see a black face,” said former marine Thomas McPhatter. “This is the last straw. I feel like I’ve been denied, I’ve been insulted, I’ve been mistreated. But what can you do? We still have a strong underlying force in my country of rabid racism.”

McPhatter said he even had a part in raising the first American flag on the island. “The man who put the first flag up on Iwo Jima got a piece of pipe from me to put the flag up on,” he told the newspaper.

Almost 900 of the 30,000 marines that stormed the island were African-American.