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25 Black Movies of the '80s You Should Watch

25 Black Movies of the '80s You Should Watch

Black people starred in, wrote, and directed movies in the 1980s. From romantic comedies and parodies of blaxploitation movies to historical and action movies, here are 25 of them.

Oh and only the top 3 stars (in credit order) are listed for each movie. Many of these movies contained other amazing black actors and actresses. 

1. Coming To America (1988)

Black Writer: Eddie Murphy

Black Stars: Eddie Murphy, Paul Bates, Garcelle Beauvais

What is this movie about? "An extremely pampered African Prince travels to Queens, New York, and goes undercover to find a wife who he can respect for her intelligence and will." -IMDb

2. The Color Purple (1985)

Black Writer: Alice Walker

Black Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey 

What is this movie about? "A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades." -IMDb

3. Leon on Me (1989)

Black Stars: Morgan Freeman, Beverly Todd, Robert Guillaume

What is this movie about? "The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school and he is determined to improve by any and all means." -IMDb

4. Do the Right Thing (1989)

Black Director: Spike Lee

Black Writer: Spike Lee

Black Stars: Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee

What is this movie about? "On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence." -IMDb

5. Glory (1989)

Black Star: Denzel Washington 

What is this movie about? "Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates." -IMDb

6. School Daze (1988)

Black Director: Spike Lee

Black Writer: Spike Lee

Black Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, Tisha Campbell-Martin

What is this movie about? "A not so popular young man wants to pledge to a popular fraternity at his historically black college." -IMDb

7. Harlem Nights (1989)

Black Director: Eddie Murphy

Black Writer: Eddie Murphy

Black Stars: Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx

What is this movie about? "During the 1930s, a New York City illegal gambling house owner and his associates must deal with strong competition, gangsters, and corrupt cops in order to stay in business." -IMDb

8. Purple Rain (1984)

Black Stars: Prince, Morris Day 

What is this movie about? "A young musician, tormented by an abusive situation at home, must contend with a rival singer, a burgeoning romance, and his own dissatisfied band, as his star begins to rise." -IMDb

9. I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)

Black Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans

Black Writer: Keenen Ivory Wayans

Black Stars: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas

What is this movie about? "In this parody of blaxploitation movies, a black hero wannabe reunites former black heroes from the 70s to help him get revenge on Mr. Big." -IMDb

10. A Soldier's Story (1984)

Black Writer: Charles Fuller

Black Stars: Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Art Evans

What is this movie about? "An African American officer investigates a murder in a racially charged situation in World War II." -IMDb

11. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Black Star: Eddie Murphy

What is this movie about? "A freewheeling Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills." -IMDb

12. Bird (1988)

Black Star:  Forest Whitaker

What is this movie about? "The troubled life and career of the jazz musician, Charlie "Bird" Parker." -IMDb

13. Cry Freedom (1987)

Black Stars:  Denzel Washington, Josette Simon 

What is this movie about? "South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country, after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, the black activist Steve Biko." -IMDb

14. Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

Black Director: Robert Townsend

Black Writers: Robert Townsend, Keenen Ivory Wayans

Black Stars: Robert Townsend, Craigus R. Johnson, Helen Martin

What is this movie about? "An actor limited to stereotypical roles because of his ethnicity, dreams of making it big as a highly respected performer. As he makes his rounds, the film takes a satiric look at African American actors in Hollywood." -IMDb

15. The Last Dragon (1985)

Black Director: Michael Schultz

Black Stars: Taimak, Vanity

What is this movie about? "In New York City, a young man searches for the "master" to obtain the final level of martial arts mastery known as the glow. Along the way, he must fight a martial arts expert corrupted with power, and rescue a beautiful singer from an obsessed music promoter." -IMDb

16. She's Gotta Have It (1986)

Black Director: Spike Lee

Black Writer: Spike Lee

Black Stars: Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell

What is this movie about? "Story of a woman and her three lovers." -IMDb

17. Krush Groove (1985)

Black Director: Michael Schultz

Black Writer: Ralph Farquhar

Black Stars: Sheila E., Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels

What is this movie about? "In this movie based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings, up-and-coming manager Russell Walker manages all the hottest acts on the record label Krush Groove Records, which include Run-D.M.C., Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and Kurtis Blow, while Rick (Rubin) produces the label's records. When Run-D.M.C. has a hit record and Russell doesn't have the money to press records, he borrows money from a street hustler. At the same time, Russell and and his brother Run both compete for the heart of R&B singer Sheila E." -IMDb

18. Brewster's Millions (1985)

Black Stars: Richard Pryor, Lonette McKee

What is this movie about? "A minor league baseball player has to spend thirty million dollars in thirty days, in order to inherit three hundred million dollars. However, he's not allowed to tell anyone about the deal." -IMDb

19. Stir Crazy (1980)

Black Director: Sidney Poitier

Black Stars: Richard Pryor, Georg Stanford Brown

What is this movie about? "Set up and wrongfully accused, two best friends will be sent to prison for a crime they didn't commit. However, no prison cell could keep them locked in." -IMDb

20. Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)

Black Star: Whoopi Goldberg 

What is this movie about? "Terry works for a bank, and uses computers to communicate with clients all over the world. One day she gets a coded message from an unknown source. After decoding the message, Terry becomes embroiled in an espionage ring. People are killed, and Terry is chased. Throughout she remains in contact with this unknown person, who needs Terry to help save his life." -IMDb

21. The Toy (1982)

Black Stars: Richard Pryor 

What is this movie about? "An underemployed reporter finds himself literally purchased as a toy for a rich spoiled brat." -IMDb

22. Disorderlies (1987)

Black Director: Michael Schultz

Black Stars: Darren Robinson, Damon Wimbley,

What is this movie about? "Three bumbling orderlies are hired to take care of an old rich man. Humorous mayhem follows." -IMDb

23. Beat Street (1984)

Black Director: Stan Lathan

Black Stars: Rae Dawn Chong, Guy Davis

What is this movie about? "An aspiring DJ, from the South Bronx, and his best friend, a promoter, try to get into show business by exposing people to hip-hop music and culture." -IMDb

24. Tap (1989)

Black Stars: Gregory Hines, Suzzanne Douglas, Sammy Davis Jr.

What is this movie about? "Just released from prison, Max Washington must decide which of his previous professions to return to: burglar or tap dancer." -IMDb

25. Native Son (1986)

Black Writers: Richard Wesley, Richard Wright

Black Stars: Victor Love

What is this movie about? "In 1940s Chicago, a young black man takes a job as a chauffeur to a white family, which takes a turn for the worse when he accidentally kills the teenage daughter of the couple and then tries to cover it up." -IMDb


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