The Education of Sonny Carson is a forgotten 70s film that foregoes the visceral thrill present in so-called 'blaxploitation' films in favour of a more realistic approach to a similar tale of crime and redemption. The film bears some similarities to the verite approach of Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song but is infinitely superior to that movie in the storytelling department. Based on Carson's autobiography, the title character (played with absolute conviction by Rony Clanton) is a bright young man who gets sucked into gang turf warfare that ends with him doing time in the slammer. There are good supporting performances by B.T. Taylor as fellow Lord, Crazy, and Joyce Walker as Sonny's girlfriend Virginia, whose addiction to heroin ultimately turns Carson's life around. The location footage in Bedford-Stuyvesant is excellent, and the battle between the Lords and the Hawks anticipates similar scenes in The Warriors and the Wanderers (both 1979).
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