This is the story of a black man who has been elected sheriff in a U.S. southern county, due to the vote of blacks. He receives a huge amount of hostility from the non-tolerant white establishment, making his job very hard. The white former sheriff has his own struggle, as he balances his devotion to the law with his family and community relations. Things come to a head when the black sheriff puts a white man, the son of a wealthy land-owner of a neighboring county, in jail, and his daddy comes after him. Everyone around has to decide where their values really lie. Written by
Luis Carvacho <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Film-critic Leonard Maltin called this "a poor man's In the Heat of the Night", which sounds like an easy way to dismiss a movie that is actually quite good on it's own terms, and not really anywhere close "In the Heat of the Night" story-wise (except for the part of white southerners learning to respect a black man).
In my opinion, Jim Brown is one of the coolest athletes-turned-actors of his generation. Sure, he's no Sidney Poitier, but who is? Here he's given one of the best parts of his career, and he even gets great support from a number of wonderful actors, notably the legendary Fredric March, who chews the scenery as a quarrelsome old mayor and George Kennedy as the former sheriff (and I guess this movie's equivalent to Rod Steiger if Leonard Maltin had a say in it). Don Stroud (whatever happened to his career?) is creepy as a racist ex-deputy and any fan of Clifton James should get a kick out of his part, as a leading klan-member who in the end turns out to be one of the main characters in the plot, and not such a bad guy after all.
A surprisingly engaging movie, at times quite gripping, with inspired direction by Ralph Nelson and a show of force from a first-rate cast.
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