Wednesday, June 19, 2013


    ... and it's a life sentence

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Court is now in session...

One of the main films that DJANGO UNCHAINED stole from homaged was this 1972 Fred Williamson classic with Fred as the aforementioned Charley, who we see as a baby in the Prologue as slavers are replenishing their stock by herding more Africans into a boat, which include Charley and his mom. Over the credits, we're introduced to Charley and his present life on the plantation - he's the blacksmith and his mom is the Top Mammy taking care of an ailing Master. Master is not long for this world, and Charley's Mammy gets Master to promise to free Charley. That doesn't set too well with Master's son (John P. Ryan - IT'S ALIVE, RUNAWAY TRAIN), who has no intentions on honoring his dad's promise and expresses his displeasure by beating Charley - who responds to this treatment by killing his white ass.

Charley then goes on the run with his friend, Joshua (Don Pedro Colley -THX-1138, SUGAR HILL) and one of the house servants, Toby (D'urbville Martin - BOSS NIGGER). They head West, with an avenging posse in pursuit. Stopping in a small town to make their stand, they encounter an old Black man, Shadow (Thomas Anderson) passing himself off as a Native American and a young Black gunslinger, Willie (Tom Pemberton), who throw in with Charley and his friends. After making short work of the posse, the group ends up helping a farming couple being terrorized by The Reverend (Joe Santos - THE ROCKFORD FILES). Lots of gunplay ensues, and people die as hard justice is dispensed - with Nigger Charley ending up as the Last Man Standing.

 This holds up rather well as a well done B-movie; it's definitely among the best of Williamson's roles and it's aided by a strong support cast, much better than you'd expect in a film like this, and it is affecting as they get killed off in the final battle - only D'urville Martin survives to reprise his role along with Williamson for THE SOUL OF NIGGER CHARLEY, which continues the Charley saga, providing ex-Confederate soldiers who cause havoc until Nigger Charley hands out some well-deserved ass kicking justice.

It probably ain't classic cinema, but NC holds its own as a successful combination of the Western and Blackploitation, with a patina of history about the black experience heading out West...