10/14/19 O&A NYC HOLLYWOOD MONDAY: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1979) Diahann Carroll, Constance Good and Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings based on the autobiography of the same name by Maya Angelou. The film first aired on April 28, 1979 on CBS.

Angelou and Leonora Thuna wrote the screenplay, and the movie was directed by Fielder Cook. Constance Good played the young Maya Angelou. Also appearing were Esther Rolle, Roger E. Mosley, Diahann Carroll, Ruby Dee, and Madge Sinclair. Filming took place in Vicksburg, Mississippi. 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1979) Diahann Carroll, Constance Good, Maya Angelou

The movie traces Maya’s life from when she and her brother move in with their grandmother to the trauma of being raped as a young girl by one of her mother’s boyfriends and the several years of silence that came after the attack. Two scenes in the movie differed from events described in the book. Angelou added a scene between Maya and Uncle Willie after the Joe Louis fight. In it, he expresses his feelings of redemption after Louis defeats a white opponent.

Angelou also presents her eighth-grade graduation differently in the film. In the book, Henry Reed delivers the valedictory speech and leads the black audience in the Negro national anthem. In the movie, Maya conducts these activities.

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