5 Black Films We’d Watch Anytime

From New Jack City to Love Jones, we count down our favorite cult classics.


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Love Jones (1997)

Directed by Theodore Witcher
Box office: $12.5 million domestic, $3.9 million opening weekend
Quotables: “I’m the blues in your left thigh, tryna become the funk in your right.”
“I must admit, girl. You da sh–, girl. And I’m diggin’ you like a grave.”
Sound-track standouts: “Hopeless,” by Dionne Farris; “The Sweetest Thing,” by the Refugee Camp All-Stars, featuring Lauryn Hill; “In a Sentimental Mood,” by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane

Don’t you dare talk bad about Love Jones, especially in the company of HBCU grads, people from Chicago or anyone who has ever participated in a dimly lit spoken-word showcase. But how corny are those lines from Darius’ spoken word when you read them now? (Insert snaps here for emphasis.) There are sure to be (more) talks of a sequel and how Love Jones started an onslaught of black romantic comedies in the late ’90s and early 2000s. But has the film held up over the past 15 years? Could Darius and Nina make it work in 2012?

Friday (1995)

Directed by F. Gary Gray
Box office: $27.5 million domestic, $6.6 million opening weekend
Quotables: “And you know this, MAAAN!”
“I’m gonna get you high today, ’cause it’s Friday; you ain’t got no job … and you ain’t got sh– to do.”
Sound-track standouts: “Keep Their Heads Ringin’,” by Dr. Dre; “Mary Jane,” by Rick James

In 2003, Entertainment Weekly made a list of the 50 best cult classics of all time, and Friday ranked No. 49. These lists don’t seem to be complete without a few stoner comedies. And the success of Friday spawned a whole trilogy. Just last week, Ice Cube said he’s started writing the fourth installment — with hopes of getting Chris Tucker on board.

The Five Heartbeats (1991)

Directed by Robert Townsend
Box office: $8.75 million domestic, $1.6 million opening weekend
Quotables: “Nights like this, I wish raindrops would fa-ah-ah-ah-allll.”
“My office hours are 9 to 5.”
Sound-track standouts: “A Heart Is a House for Love,” by the Dells; “We Haven’t Finished Yet,” by Patti LaBelle, Tressa Thomas and Billy Valentine; “Nights Like This,” by After 7

Thembi Ford calls The Five Heartbeats a “glorified TV movie that put the Dreamgirls treatment on the Temptations.” Based on the stories of several ’50s and ’60s R&B groups, it’s a musical that laid the foundation for actor Leon to become the first person anyone thinks of when you mention David Ruffin.