The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Showing posts with label 1970s. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1970s. Show all posts

Friday, June 16, 2023

Just an Old Sweet Song (1976, TV Movie)

"Just an Old Sweet Song" (1976) was a made-for-television drama presented by GE Theatre which aired on several local network channels. Melvin Van Peebles wrote the script for the movie, and stars Robert Hooks and Cicely Tyson as the lead actors. 

By 1976, black actors started seeing more work in TV movies, especially with more programming featuring a primarily black cast. These films were welcoming counters to blaxploitation movies that were flooding the market. "Just an Old Sweet Song" is a story about a family from Detroit that moves down south. While there, they face various situations where the family tries to understand themselves and their societal place. As expected, Robert Hooks and Cicely Tyson were masterful, but the supporting cast was just as good, which includes Beah Richards, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Mary Alice, Kevin Hooks, and Sonny Jim Gains. 

Overall, the film is a good watch and honest with its intentions. I recommend the movie if you want to see legendary actors in their element.

Director: Robert Ellis Miller
Writers: Melvin Van Peebles, Jane Parker

Starring Cicely Tyson, Robert Hooks, Beah Richards, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Joe, Minnie Gentry, Edward Binns, Kevin Hooks, Eric Hooks, Sonny Jim Gaines, Mary Alice, Tia Rance, Philip Wende, Walt Guthrie, Lou Walker

Priscilla Simmons (Cicely Tyson) is a working-class mother who traded her "backward ways" of the South for a Nothern education. Now she has a husband, three kids, and a promising career. Her life in the big city is very ordinary until her mother's illness forces the family to venture across the Mason-Dixon line for the first time.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Solomon King (1974)

"Solomon King" (1974) is an action film from the booming 1970s production of black cult movies known as the Blaxploitation era. For the longest, the only thing that ever existed from this film after its initial run in theaters was the rare soundtrack by Jimmy Lewis. Long considered lost, Deaf Crocodile films have brought a piece of 1970s Oakland, California, back to life.

By 1974, the production of black movies was at its highest since the mid-1940s. Moreover, most black films produced came from prominent studio companies like MGM, Warner Brothers, and American International Pictures. However, independent filmmakers were still releasing films too. One of those filmmakers was Sal Watts, an entrepreneur born in Mississippi who eventually moved to California. He had a vision and passion for bringing his ideas to the big screen. In addition, Sal took part in various productions of TV shows, which helped him gain experience in creating "Solomon King."

So, for many people, "Solomon King" is a new-old film. That's different from movies that existed on home media, but you never got to see. If you didn't see this production while it was in theaters in '74 - '76, as well as its retitled run as "Luck Agent (a.k.a. Black Agent)" in 1977, then this is a brand new movie for most. Sal wrote this film with different intentions than many black films saturating the market while simultaneously influenced by famous fictional characters such as "Shaft." The film has a glamorous style of fashion where each character exemplifies the image Sal was conveying. The movie also gives an excellent nostalgic look at Oakland, California. Sal shot several scenes in the film throughout the city, ensuring that he pulls you into the environment.

The actors in the film are primarily novices, but they do a decent job of bringing their characters and the story to life. The storyline is well-thought and promising. This movie isn't an ordinary "stick it to the man" film that was regular during the 70s. There was messaging and righteousness involved, and Sal was making a statement. The action in the movie is fantastic and funny in parts. The action does give off "Dolemite" vibes, but Sal made his movie before Rudy Ray Moore's "Dolemite" conception. In addition, the soulful and funky soundtrack takes this movie to another level.

If you're a fan of those old-school 1970s black movies, then "Solomon King" is the film you need to watch. It's always great to resurface a lost black film so the filmmaker and his family can see their work in a new world. Thanks to Sal's wife, Belinda Burton-Watts, and Deaf Crocodile for bringing this black film history to people. "Solomon King's" release was made possible by Deaf Crocdile's Kickstarter campaign that raised over $50k, resulting in an excellent Blu-ray transfer and clearance granted by Sal's widow, Belinda.

Directors: Jack Bomay, Sal Watts
Writers: Jim Alston (story by), Sal Watts (screenplay by)

Starring Sal Watts, James Watts, Samaki Bennett, Claudia Russo, Felice Kinchelow, Louis Zito, Bernard B. Burton, Richard Scarso, Tito Fuentes, C.B. Lyars, Tanya Boyd

Ex-Green Beret Solomon King, an Oakland, California, club owner, swears vengeance when a former lover, Princess Oneeba, is murdered in his house by agents from the oil-rich Middle Eastern sheikdom she once escaped. With the help of brother Maney King, CIA agent O'Malley, and several fellow Vietnam veterans, Solomon conducts a commando raid into the Arab country and kills the hit man.