THE POSSE
DIRECTOR: MARIO VAN PEEBLES
AMERICA 1993
CINEMATOGRAPHY: PETER MENZIES, JR.
CAST: Stephen Baldwin, Lawrence Cook, Richard Grant, Pam Greer, Isaac Hayes, Robert Hooks, Richard Jordan, Big Daddy Kane, Charles Lane, Tiny Lister, Tone Loc,
Salli Richardson, Nipsey Russell, Woody Strode, Mario Van Peebles, Dad Van Peebles, Billy Zane.
ONE WORD: Superb film about the black cowboy.


(Some Editorial Notes)
The true statement about the black film maker is done in this film without a single actor having to take to the screen. It takes a music company that believes in the black man and his art, to provide a black man with a chance to make a superb film.... rarely has Hollywood ever been so well flipped off, and deservedly so. It explains the main problem with the arts, and in this case film, when it comes to the entertainment industry. It is stuck on race and color, and Hollywood's star systems are not interested in anyone of color and their projects.

Unlike the Hollywood typical attempt to typecast blacks, and in many ways the films that have been done by some better known black actors and actresses are actually white productions, rather than a film that speaks the mind, peace and spirit of the black man, as this film does so well.

And it is obvious that MARIO VAN PEEBLES is well aware of this, since his own father is one of the solid parts of the black film history in this country and one of the people that refused to allow the black man to be stereotyped, as he/she was for so long. (David L. Leah's From Sambo to Superspade).

It is the story of Jessie Lee, a black cowboy that earned himself a reputation, and also in every list to be gotten rid of. And unlike most westerns, the story here, is told to let us know that there were an incredible percentage of black cowboys, much more than we could ever have imagined, around, than we care to accept or believe. And that Hollywood is the type of establishment that also created the image that the west was all white and that all Indians and black were the bad guys. We still fight this image today, be it a bit of racial prejudice, or a simple we have never really mixed with them before.

Jessie Lee manages to do his deeds and help save a town along the way, even if he is being looked after as an outlaw, for reasons that are never defined. And by all impressions, it is hard to believe that this man is an outlaw at all. Were he not black he might have been the sheriff, or mayor, of a town.

THE POSSE has a nice, really smooth, level of transitions and story lines that are well mixed together. And they are well thought out, a sign that this man is a directing force to be dealt with. Mario is really SMOOTH where his father Melvin needed to make a stand at a time when he couldn't be accepted as a valid artist. Mario concentrates on the story telling, while his dad used to showcase. The acting is solid, although it is a bit on the modern side, which is something we tend not to accept as a part of the past. But the evolution of the human experience is not bound by acting conventions, and Mario seems to understand that very well. He allows the actors their bits and pieces and they all shine. It is just a shame that a film like this does not get looked at as another UNFORGIVEN, because this is the black version of that film. But it is in this reviewer's heart. And it is as good if not better than that film!

SUPERB. SHOULD BE SEEN. OUTSTANDING DIRECTING.

5 GIBLOONS

 

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