Author Topic: Black Westerns--  (Read 3373 times)

Offline Hypestyle

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Black Westerns--
« on: September 28, 2006, 08:39:02 am »
post here about any you've seen.  I'll start, with a couple titles I just picked up:

The legend of (N-Word) Charley and the Soul of...Charley are the first two Western vehicles from Fred Williamson (also featuring frequent screen collaborator D'Urville Martin). Both films were originally released by Paramount Studios.  Like much of the blaxploitation in the major studios' archives, they have long since been buried.  But they need to be polished up and re-released.
PROS:
In The Legend Of... (directed by Martin Goldman), the story starts out on a Virginia plantation, before the Civil War.  The dying master wishes to free his caretaker slave, but she convinces him to make it her son, blacksmith Charley (Williamson), instead.  The scheming overseer Houston has other plans; he and a gang of cronies beat up Charley, tear his free papers in half, and lock him up in a shed, going to town for a public auction.  Fellow plantation slaves Joshua (Don Pedro Colley) and Toby (Martin) were already planning an escape-- with stolen horses and guns, they bring Charlie with them (Toby even manages to fix up Charley's free papers).  They end up at a white frontier town where they bogart their way into a saloon for a drink. Perhaps incredibly, the even-tempered sheriff just doesn't want the town torn up by violence, and pleads Charley's band to leave.  But they are already pursued by ruthless  bounty hunter Niles Fowler.  Again trying to broker peace, the sheriff gets shot by Fowler for his trouble, setting up a  showdown with Charley and crew, who just barely come out on top, with the help of a black stable boy.  Perhaps ironically, Dewey Lyons, a white homesteader with a white/Indian wife wants to hire Charley and crew to protect him from "The Reverend", a Bible-quoting, gun-toting brigand whose band of outlaws basically pillage his meager farm every few weeks.  At first declining, Charley has a change of heart-- it's the woman-- and soon he heads back for a series of confrontations with the bad guys.  Charley is victorious, but only he and Toby are left from their rag-tag band:  The end of the film has some portentious lines for the black duo:
Toby- "Which way should we go, Charley?"
Charley- "Don't matter.  Seems like trouble's going to follow us wherever we go."

In The Soul Of..Charley (directed by Larry Spangler), the Civil War has recently ended, and Charley and Toby  are reintroduced wandering the West, as they happen upon a frontier town of all blacks who have been recently murdered.  Turns out it's at the hands of a bigot ex-Confederate colonel Blanchard, working for a General who moved his troops and other Confederacy loyalists across the Rio Grande into Mexico, and effectively has his own independent plantation full of still-enslaved blacks.  71, in fact.   Charley and Toby ride to a nearby Quaker settlement, where blacks are welcomed.  They find a few dozen other newly-free blacks, but a Black Cavalry deserter and his wife arrive just in time to warn everyone about Blanchard's marauders.  With Charley in charge, the townsfolk fend off Blanchard, and find out where he's headed next: To catch a train with a cache' of Confederate gold on its way to the General.  Charley hatches a plot: Take a short cut to the train, steal the gold, then bargain for the freedom of the slaves.  Everything doesn't go exactly as planned-- but then, this is an action film.
Among their allies in this new endeavor are Ode, a black/Comanche who's an expert archer, and Sandoval, a sympathetic Mexican bandit.  Denise Nicholas plays Elena, Charley's love interest (the film gives her a curious backstory of being a mulatto house slave/concubine who ended up being a hooker in New Orleans before meeting up with her Cavalry guy; he gets killed in the first major fight with Blanchard, and after that she starts having feelings for Charley).  The aftermath to the climactic gunfight is a pyrhhic victory for Charley- the surviving Confederates are led out of town by gunpoint, and the blacks get to take over the community-- Charley & Toby decide to stop wandering and make this their home; but a not-yet-dead gunman takes the life of Elena.
Notable line:  "I wonder if the black man will ever be free?".  Looking closely at this film in particular, it's not hard to see where Mario Van Peebles got a few cues for his own Posse.
CONS:
These DVDs (through indie operation Blax Film) quality is watchable, but bad, and not recommended except for black-action/Williamson completists (like me).  For Legend Of.., it looks like this was lifted from a TV syndication print, as it's full-screen, and the curses are muted out-- but the N word is not.  For The Soul Of.., they did at least get a widescreen print (maybe an old drive-in copy).  But in both cases, the colors are washed out and the sound mix is blah.  Don't cop it unless it's in the bargain-bin.
IMO, Paramount has one of the lower-tier home-video departments, compared to New Line and Columbia.  Someone in their video department needs to bring back this stuff, for real.
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Offline In_Spirit

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Re: Black Westerns--
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2006, 08:39:26 am »
I can only recall two that I've seen. 

"Buck And The Preacher"  starring Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier

"Posse"  starring Mario Van Peebles, Salli Richardson and a bunch of rappers   :D


I recommend Buck And The Preacher if you haven't seen it.  I think Blazing Saddles should receive an honorable mention just for Cleavon Littles performance alone.

Offline Open palm

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Re: Black Westerns--
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2006, 08:50:02 pm »
There was Jim Brown in "100 Rifles". I remember hearing about a movie Mario Van Peebles did with a black posse (not Gang of Roses but something else).
Do you prefer a hero who will confirm your deepest fears? Or a hero who will inspire faith in humanity and goodness?

Offline KamiKaZee

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Re: Black Westerns--
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2006, 09:54:11 pm »


Thomasine & Bushrod


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Offline Hypestyle

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Re: Black Westerns--
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2006, 10:05:28 am »
I can only recall two that I've seen. 

"Buck And The Preacher"  starring Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier

"Posse"  starring Mario Van Peebles, Salli Richardson and a bunch of rappers   :D


I recommend Buck And The Preacher if you haven't seen it.  I think Blazing Saddles should receive an honorable mention just for Cleavon Littles performance alone.

ah.. I saw "Buck" for the first time a few weeks back on cable.. good stuff.. I'll have to get the dvd soon..

I've got the "Posse" dvd; it's very cool, a good early 90's update for the genre.. and of course, a cameo by the brothers Hudlin..   :)
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Offline Redjack

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Re: Black Westerns--
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2006, 02:00:40 am »
MAN AND BOY

UNFORGIVEN.

SKIN GAME.

BUFFALO SOLDIERS (it was weak but so was Posse)

BUCK and the PREACHER (TOP NOTCH!!)

Band of Roses ( i think. it's straight to dvd crap but still a western)





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Offline Pantherfan

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Re: Black Westerns--
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2006, 02:09:32 pm »
Take A Long Ride----- Starring Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, Jim Kelly and Lee Van Cleef.

The movie is Three The Hard Way Wild West style.