Buck and the Preacher (1972) Sidney Poitier And Harry Belafonte Ride Out West

Can Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte get along and fight injustice in this western buddy movie?

Tagline – They’ll take on the guns of the whole damned West after they take on each other………….

What’s going down in Western town?
After the American Civil War had broke up many plantations, the freed slaves gathered family groups and traveled in convoys of wagon trains across the country to try and settle in territories surrounding Kansas. This is based on a real event that happen called the Exoduster Movement where thousands of African American migrated along the Mississippi River on route to Kansas. A former soldier helps the African Americans, for payment, with safe passage and supplies for the long journey. Negotiating routes and planned settlement areas for the families to set up a new home before moving on to the next group. It was a business for him. Unfortunately for the wagon trains there were violent gangs hired by plantation owners filled with hatred. Determined to stop their once free workforce from running out of them. The gangs were savage, killing many peaceful families, regardless of age or gender. For the former soldier this was too much, he had to take matters into his own hands. Possibly a strange, rather odd preacher might help with the cause?……..

Who’s our righteous hero gunslinger?
If anyone is gonna play a righteous character then we all know Sidney Poitier will always be ready to step up for the job. He plays former Army sergeant Buck. A two gun holster ready kinda guy. He’s wise and knows the land well. Now a self employed wagon master with good connections with the local Indian tribes. His conscience won’t let him sit back. He has to fight injustice. “Buck, you’re just one man!” “But I gave them my word!

Does he have a trusty side kick?
Is he trusty? He’s certainly a rogue of sorts. We and Buck meet The Preacher (Harry Belafonte) stark butt naked. He looks wild when he flashes his blacken teeth. Then we soon discover he’s a man of cloth with an over-sized bible on hand. Could there be a reason for that? A lone wolf who can pull the big jiving soul preacher man out the bag when he wants. He has a cheeky smile. “That’s a lot of drinkin‘”

Cowgirl love interest?
Buck’s wife Ruth (Ruby Dee) longingly, lovingly awaits for her man to return. You can see the love she has for Buck in her eyes. Ruth is tough and is willing to help out if she can.

A collection of low down and dirty bad boy cowboys?
Oooo these ex-soldiers, bandits and crackers are bad, real bad. Murderous rampaging moral-less men. Happy with killing and burning everything in their path. Long as they got money to spend on hookers and booze they will be ready to start a fresh in the morning. The bloodthirsty gang are lead by confederate soldier Deshay (Cameron Mitchell) who hams the real low down and dirty up as much as he can.

Sheriff in town?
There is a Sheriff (John Kelly). He doesn’t do a lot but he’s a kind fellow who just wants the black folk of the town to be left alone to do as they please. He soon finds himself caught up with Deshay’s gang.

Injun’s?
I thought the Indian scenes were tastefully done. Ok they had Mexican’s standing in for the Native American’s. However I enjoyed the interactions between Buck and the Indian Chief (Enrique Lucero) as the interpreter Sinsie (Julie Robinson) translates. Each time she delivers you can see different emotions of the Chief face as he replies. As Buck asks for safe passage and the chance for guns he is reminded of their own plight. Buck – “Tell him our enemy is our enemies.” Chief – “You black people fought with that enemy against our people!..” is the reply. He reminds Buck of their own need for guns and bullets to keep their own people safe as the yellow hair keeps ripping through their lands.

One of best scenes.
There’s a few lighthearted scenes that were great like when Buck and The Preacher first meet. A staring standoff with Buck swapping his tired horse for the naked man’s steed as a skinned rabbit slowly cooks away between them. Another has the Preacher sneaky wandering around the back of a convenience store following a dutiful young black boy as he goes about his tasks. Preacher has whiskey on his mind. If I had to pick on scene I liked best I might be tempted to go for the interaction between Buck and the Indian tribe mentioned above.

The quick-draw question shootout round.

  • Fun fact
    Julie Robinson who plays who plays Sinsie the Indian Chief’s partner and interpreter was Harry Belafonte’s wife and they have two children together.
  • Shoot-out ratio.
    Pretty high. Though the early ones are sadly tragic we all hope for a vengeful shoot-out later on. We get a few.
  • Someone has to have the fastest hands?
    Buck steps up with his two double barrel pistols. Looking them up they might be a Howdah pistol that was a large-calibre handgun.
  • Saloon fight.
    There’s a pretty good saloon / brothel fight especially with the build up as the Preacher praises the good lord with his trusty bible.
  • A town drunk old codger?
    Not a town old drunk and not old either but our wandering nomadic Preacher likes to guzzle the whiskey when he can.
  • Hang on a minute is that so-in-so?
    The only guy I recognized was James McEachin who plays Kingston. He had been in a few Clint Eastwood films playing the Clint’s radio DJ mate in Play Misty For Me (1971) and a detective in Sudden Impact (1983). He has over a hundred credits to his name and if you are a Perry Mason fan you would know him as Lt Brock.
  • Scalping?
    I’m sure there were a few in the tribe itching to let loosen a few hair molecules however they were trying to keep the status quo.
  • The best little whorehouse in the west?
    The baddies definitely think so. A good place to spend your bloodstained money. Even Madam Esther (Nita Talbot) is a piece of work and ain’t so pleased to see either of our hero’s on her, knocking shop, floor.
  • Bank robbery?
    With desperate need for funds to help supply the wagon train of travelers that would soon to be starving, there was only one option. That’s it, bank job!
  • Spittoon?
    The Preacher would be our main man for the “Kaapoot-ting” job.
  • Cactus count?
    There are a few big ones at the beginning and they are alarmingly close to the naked Preacher! “Protect the family jewels” I yell at the screen!

How’s the look of the land?
The usual beautiful open landscapes we love to see. The filming locations are listed as Durango in Mexico and Marysville in California. As all good westerns, seem to/should end, we get a cool classic rocky mountain shootout.

Production stuff
Buck and the Preacher is the directing debut of Sidney Poitier. I read it was first set-up for Joseph Sargent to direct but he vacated the project leaving it open for Sidney to take up the chair. He does a fantastic job. Turning the film round in 45 days. He says that being on the other side of the camera for many years helped. “I rolled my camera for the first time. I tell you, after three or four takes of that first scene, a calm came over me. A confidence surged through my whole body… and I, as green as I was, had a touch for this new craft I had been courting from a distance for many, many years.”

The soundtrack is great but annoying at the same time. The score is by jazz saxophonist and all round master horn blower Benny Carter. What is great is he fuses the country and western style with a more blaxploitation edged furious funk. What’s annoying is they go overboard with the jew’s harp. They twang that mouth pinging harp like there was no tomorrow.

Verdict
Harry steals the show for me. His character takes on a different edge. It’s easy to see he’s onboard for some comedy relief within the darker side of things. He makes the character his own and looks like he’d had fun doing it. Of course there isn’t once that you don’t think Preacher isn’t gonna help our Buck. But it sure is entertaining to watch their mannerisms as they both give each other the lazy eye! So good to watch the two legendary superstars come together for this western. Could this be the first black western with black actors in the main roles? I think so. Whereas I did liked the soundtrack in the most part. The problem is it takes away the film just being a good western with two great actors and pushes it ever so slightly into blaxploitation territory which I don’t feel was needed. The film is strong enough in it’s own right without the soundtrack giving it a sense of the comical.

It was great watching these two share screen time together. Both share the same birth year of 1927 with birthdays only week or so apart. At 93 these two men have seen and entertained many generations. Intense yet calm, professional and wise. I love this image by Rowland Scherman with both Sidney and Harry alongside Charlton Heston during the march on Washington in 1963 for the Civil Rights Movement where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous speech “I have a dream“.

Score
7.5/10

Feel free to let me know what you thought of this one?

Thanks as always for popping in for a read. Wishing you well for the weekend.

Keep those eyes square whilst watching great movies.

Mikey Wolf

Wolfies Top Ten British TV Show Themes From His Youth

Why do I do it to myself! Ok here goes my favourite, impossible to do, top ten British TV show themes from my youth. Made easier for the fact that I’m not including children’s shows. Might do a separate one for that if I’m stupid enough to try and tackle that task.

I do like a good theme soundtrack and I’m fond of a list but rounding them up into order of which one is best, is nuts to me. Made even harder for the fact that these are beloved to me TV shows. So ten to two are randomly placed but number one is my favorite, for sure. So lets start.

  • Number 10 – The Prisoner

The Prisoner had a re-run in the late 80s on Channel Four. I was transfixed with Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan) and his various ways trying to escape his capture and interrogation. I’ve always been obsessed with spy and Cold War TV series and films. Each weeks episode would contain another ridiculous and creative story for our hero to puzzle his way through. Each episode was inventive and rather crazy. If I had to pick an episode I might go for The Chimes of Big Ben but they were all good. One thing that always stood out was the theme tune. Wild and frantic and with McGoohan serious chops driving like a mad man, yeah I was in telly heaven.

The Prisoner theme tune was composed by Ron Grainer an Australian now living and working in Britain. His name will appear again on this list. He’d not only made the classic Steptoe and Son theme but also another remarkable score in the Roald Dahl show Tales Of The Unexpected. He also did film scores. To Sir, With Love (1967) and The Omega Man (1971) to name two.

  • Number Nine – Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)

I adored Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) a buddy private detective series with a twist. A partnership between two friends called Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) and Marty Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope) who, in the first episode, is murdered but comes back as a ghost to help solve the case. After that he hangs around helping out his mate Randall. Hopkirk’s widowed wife Jeannie (Annette Andre) worked for the duo as their secretary and stays on not realising her dead husband is still hanging about. They got into many scraps and had many silly stories. It was an excellent series. In 2000 it was revamped with comedy duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Vic played the ghost, Hopkirk. I did like it.

The Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) score was by Edwin Astley who incidentally on my list composed the theme for Danger Man (1960) which starred Patrick MaGoogan. Many fans believe his secret agent character John Drake was in fact Number Six in The Prisoner. To me it makes total sense. Edwin Astley would also write the classic and brilliant theme score for Simon Templar (Roger Moore) in the spy thriller The Saint (1962).

  • Number Eight – Blake’s 7

Blake’s 7 was created by Terry Nation who was a prolific writer for many science fiction TV series like Survivors and Doctor Who and even created the Dalek’s. He also wrote for The Avengers, The Champions and The Persuaders. Blake’s 7 was about a rogue group of freedom fighters and rebels lead by Roj Blake (Gareth Thomas) as they fought against a totalitarian government. In the days of just 3 TV channels the whole family would sit around the telly. Of course, most of it’s political deep narrative went straight over my head. I was too young to really understand but I loved it and the theme tune brings much memories. Note to self to buy the box-set.

The score was composed by Dudley Simpson, another Australian who had moved to Britain and etched his name on TV soundtracks. He had a massive contribution to the incidental music within the Doctor Who series.

  • Number Seven – Jason King

Jason King was ridiculous silly fun. Jason King (Peter Wyngarde) was a flamboyant spy who had retired to write pulp fiction for a character called Mark Caine. Basically a James Bond kind of character. He would go off to exotic locations to get inspiration for his new book but then get caught up in espionage, villains and of course beautiful woman. Jason King’s outfits were bonkers especially combined with his big hair and handlebar mustache. So much fun. “A bit too early for coffee; I’ll have a Scotch.

The theme tune was created and performed by Laurie Johnson. He also did many film scores with Tiger Bay (1959) and Dr Strangelove (1963) picking just two. On the TV soundtracks he had created the 1965 new theme for The Avengers when Diana Rigg join the series. And the 1976 The New Avengers reboot that goes off on a right funk bomb. TBH it should be in my top ten! Laurie might be popping back in a bit……..

Number Six – Are You Being Served

In what can only be described as a sit-com filled with a full on barrage of innuendos. It was pretty relentless and very funny. We all tuned in at the time for the mishaps and adventures of the staff of a clothing department called the The Grace Brothers. Saucy talk and gay flirtations. Even being young you knew the jokes. It was like the Carry On films set in one place. It was great entertainment and the theme tune just stood out. Funky, kitsch and different. “I’m free!

The Are You Being Served theme was composed Ronnie Hazlehurst. What made Are You Being Served so different was using the voice of a lift girl announcing different department store floors as the a cash till pinged and clashed as the sound of the percussion. The amazing Matt Berry comedian and musician did a cover version.

  • Number Five – The Professionals

The Professionals was an all action gritty drama centering around two ruff and ready hard men. Two top agents from the CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5). Bodie (Lewis Collins) an ex-SAS paratrooper and Doyle (Martin Shaw) joined through the police force. This was a real macho show and incredibly entertaining for any pre-teen/teenage boy. Still holds up pretty well today to be honest.

Laurie Johnson returns to this list with this all firing funky theme tune with a superb opening intro scene showing the action packed nature of this series. Completely inspired by our, across the pond, American friends funky soundtracks. On a similar essential high octane watch back then for us young lads was the cop drama The Sweeney. Another show way too old for us but it was normal to watch all manner of violence and adult drama. The Professionals theme is way funkier than composer Harry South’s great but not as good Sweeney theme.

  • Number Four – Rockliffe’s Babies

Rockliffe’s Babies was a police drama series set in London. At that time we were traveling up to city to buy records and search out graffiti around the West London area. It was one of those reasons why I’d always tune into this series as a lot was filmed around Kensal Rise, Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove. Concrete brutalist architecture mixed with graff and places we visited on a regular basis. The hard nose Detective Sergeant Rockliffe (Ian Hogg) was sent in to train up a bunch of young rookie plain clothes cops in the inner-city.

Joe Campbell and Paul Hart are credited with the series music. Rockliffe’s Babies was hard hitting and I used to love hearing the theme played out with the playground noises and song, sirens and a blasting, over-the-top, saxophone. A series I’d like to some day revisit.

  • Number Three – Space 1999

Man I loved Space 1999. Got loads of the books as a kid, even wear a T-shirt now. Space 1999’s premise was really silly when you thought about it but who cares! Ready for it? Well nuclear waste explodes and the Moon, with Moonbase Alpha and a full crew, end up flying off into space. It had a great multinational crew, head up with two American’s Commander John Koenig (Martin Landau) and Dr Helena Russell (Barbara Bain). This was a live action Gerry and Sylvia Anderson production and a change from the beloved puppets. The crew would get into all kind of madness on thier travelling Moon. It was so much fun. The Anderson shows were all brilliant and featured superb theme scores like Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90, Thunderbirds and UFO (another of my personal fav shows).

Space 1999 had two themes. One by Barry Gray for Year One and the other by Derek Wadsworth for Year Two. Both are great but Barry Gray’s one is pure fantastic. Such a funky space disco party. So cool the way it goes all slow whilst it introduces the cast and them BOOM it rips out the funk as action sequences are blasted in your face. .

  • Number Two – Stingray

Pretty much all the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson productions were essential viewing and high on this young cubs viewing radar. Stingray was set under the ocean waves with Captain Troy Tempest from WASP (World Aquanaut Security Patrol) who looked after the worlds ocean’s. He was helped out along the way by Lieutenant Phones and the sexy and mysterious Marina. It might not of been the best out of the Anderson series but the theme tune was fantastic.

Stingray’s theme tune was composed by Barry Gray who hits two in this top ten of mine. It’s wonderfully sixties. Sounds very America influenced and fits in so well with the “Stand by for action” opening credit sequence. Submarines and rockets blasting, rocket fish jumping and exploding. The adventures were about to begin. Stingray also featured a wonderfully dreamy outro tune called Aqua Marina which was sung by Gary Miller. He would stand in for the voice of our hero Captain Troy whenever he would sing to the silent sweetie, Marina.

  • Number One – Doctor Who

Like I say at the beginning, the 10 to 2 are not in order of my favourites. However I know for sure Doctor Who’s theme is. I love it as much today as I did as my first time sitting wide eyed watching it. My first Doctor was Tom Baker. He was wild and I loved him. His long multicoloured scarf, packet of jelly-babies and his trusty robot canine, K9. Plus his savage, skimpy dressed, warrior woman companion Leela (Louise Jameson) did funny things to me. So hence why I’ve used the forth Doctor’s theme above. I was obsessed with Doctor Who. Bought 50 plus books with my pocket money. I did a tribute to Terrence Dicks here. Still, today, after all these years, the theme tune sounds insane. It’s perfect in every way. The beauty is it evolved with each regeneration of the Doctor. There’s 13 variations and opening sequences of it and they all kept that immensely exciting core of the original. Check out the thirteen here.

The theme was written and by the Australian composer Ron Grainer (see number ten above). He’d written the theme as words! It was then given to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to see what they could create from it. Delia Derbyshire and Dick Mills went to work cutting and slicing analogue tape together with various waveform’s and oscillating sounds from some of the first electronic equipment. Cut and paste and loop the loop style. What they created is truly incredible. If you want to know more please watch this short video showcasing how they went about the task. A theme tune that has freaked out, scared, bewildered and entertained kids and adults throughout their lives for nearly 60 years! It’s so special.


These were all big TV shows to me. So many adventures I had as a kid watching all these and still today I’ll drop into an old episode for some warm nostalgia. Of course lots have been missed out. I picked ten! That was hard. Feel free to let me know yours. Thinking I’ll hit my favourite America show theme’s sometime soon. Plus a look back at children programmes from my youth and even a freaky delve into 70s and 80s intro’s which should be fun.

Anyhow let me know what I missed, (Yeah I know Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and the super funky Department S) Also fact check back at me on info I may of got wrong. And if you want to confess? Let me know tales of hiding behind the sofa as Doctor Who played out.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. All the best. Mikey Wolf.

Winchester 73 (1950) Crack Shot James Stewart Tracks Down Ruthless Killer

Do you believe it! I got six film reviews in the works, all half done! I can’t seem to get them finished. So I’ve changed my tracks completely and started this new Western review series. A mule kick with spurs on to get my ass rolling again! The Western genre has been a little neglected in the review department here. I hope to make amends this month. Lets see! Right whip out your Colt six shooter and fire up a dance. Yeeehaa.

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Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979) Can I Save My Own Life In The Court Of Kirk?

Luckily it’s just a few people that get to read this so I hopefully won’t get the Wrath of Khan treatment from the Trekkie community. But wait before you fire me out of a photon torpedo tube for my sins please, I beg, grant me one day of freedom from execution. Maybe the chance to have one last meal? I’d like to try some Klingon delights. A bregit lung and krada leg perhaps. To wash it down with a pint of that galaxy wide favourite, the intoxicating blue juice of Romulan ale. And if I was to be so bold and ask for my last night to be spent in the arms of maybe three beautiful green Orion slave girls? Well after that I’d be happy to be blasted into the Mutara Nebula or gas cloud of your choice.

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The Asphalt Jungle (1950) A Robbery In The Sin Sodden Shadows Of A Noir Soaked City

No messing around. Lets drop the score. Yep it’s a straight 10. Been sitting on The Asphalt Jungle for a while. You know the feeling. You know full well that it’s gonna hit the spot. Enough people have nudged me. I’m sure you’re like me? It’s gotta be the right time, you want that perfect time. That perfect head space to sit back and let it flood over you. Last night was that time. Damn man! Was it fantastic! Ready to watch it again. Not only did it look incredible and believable, you could feel the sweat and hot heads bursting through the screen. All the characters felt rounded and real. Every single player dropped into the drama. They all linked perfectly up with the other. Each move, how big or small, effected the next play like a chain of events that fell fateful into place. The darkness, the grimy opening dirty streets. The sweat, the tension, the running and the pounding of fists.

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