San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
USA | 1968 | Fiction | 87 minutes
Writer and Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Producer: Guy Belfond
Cinematographer: Michel Kelber
Editor: Liliane Korb
Composer: Mickey Baker, Melvin Van Peebles
Cast: Harry Baird, Pierre Doris, Christian Marin, Nicole Berger
Melvin van Peebles made his first feature film, The Story of a Three-Day Pass, while living as an American émigré in Paris in the 1960s. Inspired by the French New Wave, Van Peebles made an ultra-low-budget film adapted from his novel La Permission, the story of a black American military man who has a weekend romance with a white French shop clerk. This interracial love story is filmed in black-and-white, has songs by Van Peebles and guitarist Mickey Baker, and is alternately funny, dramatic, and lyrical. It has the experimental, open quality that exemplifies first-time filmmaking.
Filmmaker Bio: Melvin Van Peebles has led an adventurous, nomadic life, living in Mexico, the Netherlands, France, New York and San Francisco, joining the Air Force, operating a cable car, writing novels, plays, and songs and making films. He made a few short films in the late 1950s, hoping to find work in Hollywood. Unable to find a job in the industry, he moved to Europe, where he established himself as a filmmaker. On the strength of the The Story of a Three-Day Pass, Columbia Pictures reportedly mistook Van Peebles for a French auteur, and invited him to direct The Watermelon Man. His 1971 film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, made “for all the brothers and sisters who have had enough of the Man,” was a triumph of truly independent filmmaking and distribution; it opened in just two theaters—one in Detroit, one in Atlanta – and earned more than four million dollars at the box office.