Buck and the Preacher (1972)

Food:

Burrito Bowl

  1. Get a medium pot on medium-heat and put in 2 tbsp. of butter, rice, black beans, vegetable stock, a cup of water, Southwest spice and diced onions. Once boiling, cover and turn down heat.
  2. Mix sour cream, lime juice, sprinkle of salt and add water to make less thick.
  3. Chop grape tomatoes, cilantro and get a can of corn. Put dried corn in pan on medium heat, and cook corn for 5-6 minutes until charred.
  4. Mix tomato slices, cilantro, corn, a drizzle of olive oil, Southwestern spice, salt and pepper.
  5. Once rice is cooked, mix bean&rice mixture with salsa mixture (tomatoes,etc.) in bowl. Add sour cream mixture on top. Top with Mexican cheese.

Enjoy!

Western Film Series #13:

“Buck and the Preacher” (1972) was the directorial debut of Sidney Poitier (“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “In the Heat of the Night”) and Harry Belafonte. Poitier sheds light on a part of history that is oft not discussed, especially not in Western film: in the aftermath of the Civil War, when the slaves were freed, bounty hunters would still chase after them to capture them and send them back to cheap labor agents. In this tale, a wagon master and a con-man preacher work together to help the freed slaves dodge their capturers and secure the life of freedom they deserve.

The film is accompanied by a gripping score by the great jazz composer, Benny Carter, as he utilizes a series of sharp, funky sounds which magnified both the intensity of the more violent moments and adventurous spirit of the wild West. Carter’s score is one of the most memorable aspects of the film, along with Belafonte’s horrendous teeth. The directors are also the stars – Poitier playing Buck, the wagon master and sharp shooter, and Belafonte plays his swindling side kick.

One of the other more significant parts of “Buck and the Preacher” is the portrayal of both the conflicts, but also the solidarity between the African Americans and Native Americans in the late 19th century – facing the discrimination and destruction on their own culture and people from the white man.

It was a subversive film for its time – playing against expectations, stereotypes and the expected stylization of typical black films in this time period (audiences of 1960’s were more heavily interested in blaxploitation flicks, like Belafonte’s “Black Klansman”). Sidney Poitier did not initially set out to take on this film from behind the camera, but he did so out of necessity – feeling dissatisfied with the previous director’s (Joseph Stargent) narrative. He went on to direct eight more pictures. Ruby Dee also gives a strong performance as Buck’s wife – her third collaboration with Poitier (also playing his wife in “Edge of the City” and “A Raisin in the Sun”).

Despite some thrilling moments and experimental cinematography (like from the Point of View of being atop a horse), the film falls slightly flat, as it feels longer and slower than it should. It is a smart movie with a lot to say, and it is an exciting first feature by Poitier, but adding levity, comedic relief and perhaps better character development could have elevated the execution of the story. Overall, it showcases strong performances by its cast and it is worth the watch for its cinematic contribution to history.

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