Watch Proud

"Proudly We Served"
  • PG
  • 2004
  • 1 hr 27 min
  • 5.6  (353)

"Proud" is a 2004 historical drama film that tells the largely untold story of African-American servicemen who served on the USS Mason, a World War II Navy warship with a predominantly black crew. The movie revolves around the themes of courage, honor, and the struggles the crew faced in a racially segregated military. At the time, the Navy was one of the most segregated branches of the U.S. military, and the film explores the challenges and discrimination these sailors experienced, as well as the brotherhood and camaraderie that helped them persevere.

The film stars the late, great Ossie Davis in one of his final roles before his passing in 2005. He plays the elderly Lorenzo DuFau, a former crew member of the USS Mason who is invited to attend the White House for a ceremony. As he prepares for the event and interacts with his family, DuFau reflects back on his time during the war, serving aboard the USS Mason. The narrative shifts between the past and the present, delving into the personal and collective experiences of the sailors.

Albert Jones plays the younger version of Lorenzo DuFau, a bright and tenacious sailor whose courage and leadership are tested as he and his fellow crew members face not only the dangers of war but also the pervasive racial tensions of their time. The character of DuFau acts as the audience's entry point into the world of the USS Mason, showing both the pride and the struggles that defined the crew's service.

Jeffrey Nash also stars as one of the young sailors aboard the ship, part of the ensemble cast that brings to light the dynamics among the crew. Through Nash's character and others, the movie delves into such issues as respect, merit, and recognition, highlighting the personal battles fought within the broader conflict of the war. Each of the sailors portrayed in the film has his own story, hopes, and fears, which collectively paint a picture of life on the USS Mason.

Director Mary Pat Kelly, who co-wrote the screenplay with Kevin McMenamin, crafts the film with a careful balance of historical accuracy and emotional storytelling. A major focus of the movie is on the moments that define these men as pioneers—some of the first African Americans to serve in the modern U.S. Navy at a time when segregation was still rampant. It is through their everyday heroism and determination that the film conveys a poignant message about equality and justice.

The narrative structure of "Proud" allows for a multilayered exploration of its themes. As the older DuFau grapples with his memories and the recognition long denied, the audience is taken back in time to experience firsthand the bonds formed under adversity and the pride the crew took in their vessel and their service. The challenges they face range from the overtly hostile to the subtly undermining, showcasing both the blatant and insidious forms of racism of the era.

"Proud" does not shy away from the complexity of its characters, who are shown as flawed, fully-dimensional people rather than one-dimensional heroes. Despite the obstacles placed before them by society and by the institution of the military itself, the sailors persist with a determination reflective of the larger civil rights struggles taking place on the home front. Their story is one of unwavering commitment to duty and to each other, putting their lives on the line for a country that had not yet fully acknowledged their rights or humanity.

The cinematography of the film captures both the claustrophobia of life at sea and the vastness of the ocean that serves as the backdrop for the crew's journey. The sea is both a place of isolation and of freedom, a space where the men can prove themselves far from the constraints of the racially divided United States.

Though the film is a work of dramatic interpretation, "Proud" respects historical facts and often incorporates them into the storytelling. This integration of truth and fiction aims to honor the legacy of the USS Mason's crew, whose accomplishments were historically under-recognized. By bringing their story to the screen, the filmmakers seek not only to entertain but also to educate and inspire, fostering a deeper understanding of a critical but overlooked chapter in American history.

Ultimately, "Proud" is a tribute to the men of the USS Mason and the countless other African American servicemen and women who have served their country with distinction despite facing systemic prejudice and inequality. It is an inspiring tale of resilience, unity, and the fight for respect that resonates well beyond its World War II setting.

Proud is a 2004 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 27 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.6.

Where to Watch Proud
Proud is available to watch free on Peacock, Crackle, Plex, The Roku Channel Free, Tubi TV, Vudu Free, Kanopy and Popcornflix. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, FuboTV, Philo and Google Play. Some platforms allow you to rent Proud for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 27 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.6  (353)