Eugene “Gene” Allen was born July 14, 1919 in Scottsville, Virginia. He worked as a waiter before leaving Virginia and heading for Washington, D.C. to work at a Country Club. In the early 1950’s he was hired to work in the pantry of the White House. He did his job well and was promoted to Butler. Mr. Allen served under 8 Presidents, Harry Truman; Dwight D. Eisenhower; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. It was during Reagan’s administration that he was promoted to maître d' and remained in that post until he retired in 1986.
You should know something about the man that Director Lee Daniels and Screenwriter Danny Strong has brought to the big screen. However, if it wasn't for Washington Post Columnist Wil Haygood we may not have ever know about this remarkable man.
The film warmed my heart. It took me back in time and I saw how my father, a janitor for Sears and Roebuck for 33 years, and my mother, a domestic worker, were so afraid for me and the youth of my day as we wore our Afros, threw up our fists and yelled, “We’re Black and We’re Proud!” Never realizing the fear and terror they had experienced nor the sights they had seen.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a tribute to a strong, dedicated man who worked hard and did the best he knew how to support his family and head his household. Forest Whitaker is amazing as Mr. Allen’s fictional character, Cecil Gaines. He plays him with respect. Oprah Winfrey plays Cecil Gaines soul mate and love, Gloria. To be honest she smokes a lot of cigarettes and doesn't really stand out. She caught my undivided attention in the last 5 minutes she is seen in the film. The exchange between her and Mr. Gaines is priceless.
David Oyelowo plays Louis Gaines. The son Cecil just doesn't understand. He is smart, the first in the family to finish high school and go to college. Why is he doing “sit ins” and putting himself in harm’s way? David gives us different levels with this character and he is wonderful to watch.
I will stop here and say SPEND THE MONEY and go to the theater is groups to see “Lee Daniels” The Butler. Talk about it afterwards and please do not be one of those people who think that a movie about a Butler is beneath them. It was on the backs of those Maids, Yard men, and Butlers that made it through the hard times, that we are where we are today.
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