Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Soul Double Feature

I was flipping through Comcast OnDemand last weekend and stumbled across two near gems. The first, "Buck and the Preacher" is a pretty good 1972 western starring Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte as a pair of post Civil War outlaws trying to defeat The Man while protecting a group of black settlers looking to move west. It's Poitier's first outing as director and he does well. Belafonte steals the movie as a comically-scheming preacher (who looks like a early Howard Hewitt). The coolest scenes: Belafonte, Poitier and the great Ruby Dee tearing across the desert on horseback; and Poitier gunning own a room full of bad guys in a burst of Sergio Leone-style violence (seen in the trailer above) They should have made a sequel.

The other movie is "Together Brothers" from 1974, a long-forgotten, ultra low-budget flick filmed in Galveston, TX. In it, a group of poor urban kids try to solve a murder. Sounds as square as the "Bloodhound Gang" and the movie drags on a bit, especially in the middle.

In fact, I was about to turn away when just after the half-way point, "Together Brothers" finds its groove and--so help me, y'all--turns into a convincing thriller, with shades of greatness. There is a surprising and poignant performance by Lincoln Kilpatrick who died a few years ago and was a fixture on screen and TV, including "Soylent Green" and "Uptown Saturday Night."

"Together Brothers" hasn't made it to DVD, so I have no clips to show, but check it out on On-Demand if you have it. Meanwhile, I will leave you with a little something: Barry White (a Galveston native son) and his Love Unlimited Orchestra did the movie's funky, urgent score. Decades later, the Quad City DJs would sample the "Together Brothers" theme to create "C'mon Ride the Train." Hear Barry's original here. And the Quad City DJs' here.

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