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Buck and the Preacher (Sidney Poitier, 1972, 102min.)
Christopher Llewellyn Reed, chair, film & moving image department, Stevenson University
After a two-decade-plus career in front of the camera, Poitier seized the opportunity to helm this Western when the original director, Joseph Sargent, proved less than up to the task. Producers Poitier and his on-again-off-again best friend Harry Belafonte wanted someone who could better handle the film’s racial themes, and who better to grab the reins than one of them? They both star as well (Poitier as Buck, Belafonte as the Preacher), along with Ruby Dee. Belafonte’s wife at the time, Julie Robinson, even has a small role as a Native American interpreter (even though she was white). At a time when the Western was waning in popularity, Poitier injects vibrant new life into a genre that sorely needed it, giving us a tale of Black settlers fighting racist Southern whites in the post-Civil War era. As they attempt to make the migration West, they are chased down by those who would rather they stay and work the fields closer to home. Buck and the Preacher have other ideas. The film provides a rousing conclusion to our cinematic tribute to Poitier.
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