Blaxploitation And The Wild Wild West

 

From 1970 to 1976, during the height of the Blaxploitation era, there were fourteen westerns made for public consumption. Some of these films never made it to a national audience and others haven’t been seen since their release. There were a few films that found box office success and were critically acclaimed by some of the toughest film critics.

Black westerns of the 1970‘s had the traditional flavor of good versus evil with a touch of slap stick comic relief. I’m not a huge fan of westerns but I must say my all time favorite is Thomasine and Bushrod. Some have suggested that this flick is a Black version of Bonnie and Clyde. Hey… take from the rich to give to the poor! Right On to cash redistribution to the Red, Black and Brown.

The Museum of UnCut Funk continues to bring to the forefront the significance of Blaxploitation as we celebrate the Wild Wild West.

El Condor (1970)

  • Starring: Jim Brown and Lee Van Cleef.
  • Tagline: They’ll break through the fortress walls… or die trying!
  • Plot: Luke, Jim Brown, an escaped convict, and Jaroo, a loner gold prospector, team up with a band of Apache Indians in 19th century Mexico to capture a large, heavily armed fortress for the millions of dollars in gold that are rumored to be stored within.
 

Soul Soldier (1970)

  • Starring: Rafer Johnson.
  • Tagline: SABER CHARGE! was the cry of the buffalo soldiers.
  • Plot: An all action packed western starring Ely Brown, who has a great time with other men’s wives. When he nearly gets caught he decides to join the army to elude avenging husbands.
 

Man and Boy (1971)

  • Starring: Bill Cosby and Yaphet Kotto.
  • Tagline: Bill Cosby comes to the big screen in a stunning switch from his TV and comedy portrayals to a starkly dramatic role!
  • Plot: At the beginning of the 19th century a man and his son settle in Arizona which used to be a frontier state and full of criminals at that time.
 

Buck and The Preacher (1972)

  • Starring: Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.
  • Tagline: The fight was against the raiders… but the feud was between themselves!
  • Plot: A wagon master and a con man preacher help freed slaves dogged by cheap labor agents out West.
 

Black Rodeo (1972)

  • Starring: Muhammad Ali and Woody Strode.
  • Tagline: Nobody ever told you there were Black Cowboys.
  • Plot: Documentary about a rodeo that takes place, for the most part, in Harlem, New York City.
 

The Legend of Nigger Charlie (1972)

  • Starring: Fred Williamson and D’Urville Martin.
  • Tagline: Somebody warn the West. Nigger Charley ain’t running no more.
  • Plot: Set in the pre-Civil War South, three escaped Virginia slaves are on their journey into the West. This journey is made worse by the bounty hunter who pursues them.
 

The Soul of Nigger Charlie (1973)

  • Starring: Fred Williamson and D’Urville Martin.
  • Tagline: Nigger Charley Is On The Loose Again. And This Time He’s Got His Soul Brothers With Him! WATCH OUT!
  • Plot: Southern colonel in the Civil War who has raided locations in the North in order to capture renegade slaves for a colony of Southern aristocrats living in Mexico. Escaped slave Charley (Fred Williamson) and his friend and fellow escapee Toby (D’Urville Martin) use their energy freeing the 71 Blacks captured by the colonel.
 

Thomasine & Bushrod (1974)

  • Starring Max Julien and Vonetta Mcgee.
  • Tagline: Driven By Love…And Bank Robbing
  • Plot: This pair of thieves, pattern themselves after Robin Hood and hold the White Establishment as Sheriff of Nottingham. Thomasine and Bushrod steal from rich, white capitalists and give to Mexicans, Native Americans and poor whites.
 

Adios Amigo (1975)

  • Starring: Fred Williamson and Richard Pryor.
  • Tagline: Two Sharp Dudes Taking Turns With Chicks and Tricks
  • Plot: An Black man living on the prairie is befriended by a scheming drifter.
 

Boss Nigger (1975)

  • Starring: Fred Williamson.
  • Tagline: White Man’s Town… Black Man’s Law!
  • Plot: Two Black bounty hunters ride into a small town out West in pursuit of an outlaw. They discover that the town has no sheriff, and soon take over that position. They raise hell, chase women, and milk the locals for cash, while waiting for the opportunity to get their man.
 

Take a Hard Ride (1975)

  • Starring: Jim Brown, Lee Van Cleef, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly.
  • Tagline: It Rides With The Great Westerns
  • Plot: Pike (Jim Brown), the right-hand man of cattle rancher Bob Morgan, is entrusted with a mission to deliver $86,000 across the border to the Morgan Ranch in Senora, Mexico after his boss dies. Pike teams up with dishonest gambler Tyree (Fred Williamson) and are forced to trust each other while being pursued by various outlaws and gunmen trying to possess the money, including the ruthless bounty hunter Kiefer (Lee Van Cleef) and a corrupt sheriff (Barry Sullivan).
 

Joshua (1976)

  • Starring: Fred Williamson
  • Tagline: None
  • Plot: A Black soldier returns from fighting for the Union in the Civil War only to find out that his mother has been murdered by a gang of white thugs. He becomes a bounty hunter, determined to track down and kill the men who killed his mother.
 

Movie Poster Art is from the The Museum of UnCut Funk Collection.

Curator’s Note:

I added these two films as a part of this Wild Wild West review because a number of authors included them as a part of the Blaxploitation experience due to their 1970‘s release dates and the Black actors that appeared in them.

The McMasters aka The Blood Crowd (1970)

  • Was set in the immediate post-Civil War era, The McMasters stars Brock Peters as a Black Union soldier who finds he must figuratively fight the war all over again. Returning to his southern hometown, Peters quickly learns that nothing has really changed: he is a “free”man in name only. Peters’ ex-master Burl Ives magnanimously gives the former slave a plot of land, but only Native-American David Carradine and his tribesmen are willing to work for a Black man. The “invasion” of Indians serves to stir up the racial divisiveness even farther, thanks to local rabble-rouser Jack Palance.

Kid Vengence (1976)

  • Starred Jim Brown. Was a low budget follow up to Take a Hard Ride with little fan fare. 80‘s Pop star Leif Garrett plays Tom, a teenager who teams with a Black gunfighter named Isaac (Jim Brown) to avenge his family. The culprit was McClain, Lee Van Cleef, a sadistic outlaw who carried out the brutal rape-massacre, but his role is minor, as most of the film deals with Tom’s maturation and coming to terms with his feelings.

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  1. Django and Self-Determination - Uptown Notes

  2. September 27, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Oh, man! I want to see all of these! I think the only one I have seen on this list is Buck and the Preacher. I love westerns (so much so that I have created my own in comic form), and I think it’s important for black cowboys to get the recognition that they deserve. Not every cowboy looks like John Wayne. Thanks for creating this list!

  3. March 2, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    What about Charley One eye? It’s not entirely blaxploitation but it does feature richard roundtree and an apache as the heroes.

  4. Blaxploitation and the Wild West… | Dark Matters

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