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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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Albino [a.k.a. The Night of the Askari] (1976)

  • Christopher Lee
  • James Faulkner
  • Horst Frank
This is based on a book by Daniel Carney with the much cooler title of "The Whispering Death." I haven't read it. Used copies of it are at least 50 bucks on-line. Too rich for my blood. The film (which can be found for rent on VHS at Movie Madness in Portland,Oregon) stars Christopher Lee and Trevor Howard and a bunch of actors I've never heard of. The storyline is a weird mash-up of influences.It starts out like a typical portrait of the tensions between the races in Rhodesia during the 1960's. Some social commentary. Then it switches gears and features "terrorists" (read: black Africans) going berserk and having some kind of whitey stomping rampage. Cue the blood and guts. Sybil Danning is forced to take some hose pipe and gets waxed (killed, not Brazilian). A lurid revenge thriller now looms, wanting to go full bore. And then during the extended chase sequence that takes up the latter third of the film it begins to do just that. It was during this time that a strange thought popped into my head, Isn't this Moby Dick in Africa? Think about it: We have the obsessed Police Officer (husband of dead Sybil) standing in for Captain Ahab chasing the Moby Dick character, a "White" black man. The futility of revenge is revealed.

Shoot It Black, Shoot It Blue (1974)

  • Michael Moriarty
  • Eric Laneuville
  • Paul Sorvino
This is a rare and interesting film and sadly rarely seen. It has a great cast - Moriarty and Sorvino, and a great retro blaxploitation look. The script is highly literate as well. The story centers on a white cop who kills a black mugger in cold blood. He doesn't realize that the entire episode was filmed by a black film student. The student takes the opportunity to torment the cop - and indeed follows the cop and makes a documentary about him documenting his empty life.

The filming of the shooting recalls the Rodney King incident, where a videographer filmed cops beating a black motorist. The black filmmaker reminds you a lot of Spike Lee. This film, like "Do the right thing" ends with blacks rising up in revenge - anticipating the reaction of blacks in the wake of the Rodney King trial.

An interesting time capsule of the late 70's, and still very timely.

Mad Mex: The Blackfighter [a.k.a. Big Game] (1980)

  • Max H. Boulois
  • Tom Hernández
  • William Anthon
I'll hand it to Max Boulois: He knows how to make a movie about himself. This is the 2nd of his movies that I managed to glom onto, and from what I can gather from them he is (or was) France's answer to Mr. T before Mr. T even became a name. Big lummox of a man who actually had an intelligent, creative side to him that he harvested after some sort of sports career. I'd like to learn more about him.

Here he directs himself in a somewhat trashy but nonetheless engaging movie about a (get this) Vietnam veteran NFL star who falls on hard times, runs up a gambling debt, and is recruited by a bunch of shady, ultra-rich elites who want to enjoy the ultimate thrill -- hunting another human being like an animal. The first twenty or so minutes of the film were shot in and around Manhattan with various travelogue footage before Mr. Boulois finds himself presented with a key to a Grand Central Station lockbox containing a million dollars, which will be his if he survives the ordeal. He's then blindfolded, bundled onto a helicopter, and flown to a forested area (supposedly Florida) where he predictably reverts back to his days fighting in 'Nam, using his skill at jungle warfare to turn the tables on his hunters.

So far so good, but then the film takes a U-turn back to Manhattan where Boulois hooks up with his old Vietnam war buddy to claim his cash and finds that the whole thing was a setup. What started out as a "Black RAMBO" adventure turns into a "Black POINT BLANK" as he tries to get to the bottom of the organization which decided to make sport of his life. We meet a scuzzy FBI agent (depicted as being in Washington by showing the city on a map), his pretty pistol-packin' female assistant who has a taste for African art (??), encounter intrigue with the faked suicide of a former Army colonel who had been part of the hunting party, various bombs and offscreen explosions, all of it leading to a very French looking "Mr. Big" type tycoon who's gated mansion is patrolled by armed guards carrying walkie talkies with antennas as big as the Eiffel more

The Wilby Conspiracy (1975)

  • Sidney Poitier
  • Michael Caine
  • Nicol Williamson
Having spent 10 years in prison for nationalist activities, Shack Twala is finally ordered released by the South African Supreme Court but he finds himself almost immediately on the run after a run-in with the police. Assisted by his lawyer Rina Van Niekirk and visiting British engineer Jim Keogh, he heads for Capetown where he hopes to recover a stash of diamonds, meant to finance revolutionary activities, that he had entrusted to a dentist before his incarceration. Along the way, they are followed by Major Horn of the South African State security bureau and it becomes apparent that he has no intention of arresting them until they reach their final destination.