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This is a good, solid B movie; not a great western, but a satisfying
"blaxploitation" flick mostly because the humor is well done. Not only do
the actors bring out the best in the material, but the material (by
Williamson himself, who would soon make the jump to directing but on this
film hired veteran pro Arnold) is not bad itself.
Boss Ni**er includes a blaring title track that includes the immortal lines "he's a boss niiiiiiiggggaa" in what sounds like a white dude's best impression of Marvin Gaye. Its story concerns the Boss and his sidekick, played to perfection by Durville Martin of Dolemite fame ("I love those fat women" says his character, never knowing the trouble he could get into.....), as ex-slaves who "decided to hunt white folks for a change" and went out West to become bounty hunters. The plot follows the Yojimbo mold, even including a hastily assembled opportunity for Williamson to be captured and beaten near to death by the villains, only to recuperate and return for the final bloodbath.
Like so many of Williamson and Martin's films, the appeal of the film comes from their charisma and the humorous ways they interact with the other, more straight, characters of the film. Thus, even though the plot and structure are predictable, many individual scenes are very funny and entertaining. Unfortunately, the action is not very well done. There is a PG rating, and it's pretty violent considering this, but it keeps the film from rising into the realm of, say "Il Grande Silencio" or "Fistful of Dollars", to which it is very similar; Williamson and Co. seem to have gone instead for comedy.
The film is a success at reaching its modest goals, a good time for the audience letting off some tensions with a historically based race battle.
Also contains one of the greatest exit lines ever: "There's nothing worse for a black man that to drag around a white b*tch".
Two black cowboys ride majestically across the American plain. The
music is a kind of funk-Morricone, with a singer enthusiastically
explaining that "They call him Boss. BOSS N*GGER!" A black woman is
being assaulted by a group of white cowboys, our black heroes intervene
and save this damsel in distress.
A blaxploitation Western was bound to happen eventually, and its a good thing Fred Williamson got there first. What Boss N*gger lacks in technical proficiency and skill it makes up for in heart and soul. The music is funktacular, especially the catchy theme tune, and the acting from our heroes is wonderful. Boss N*gger also boasts some very funny lines, such as Boss kissing a white woman, before going, "that's just to satisfy your curiosity."
It's slow at parts, but the idea of two black bounty hunters coming to a white town and setting their own rules is appealing, and the film pulls it off. There are also some great shootouts, especially the finale, which is really quite exhilarating, and features a remarkable, almost downbeat ending. This film is by no means a masterpiece, but it is one of the best blaxploitation films I've seen, and an admirable effort on a small budget.
Boss (Fred Williamson) and Amos (D'Urville Martin) are bounty hunters,
riding into the city of San Miguel to collect a reward when they find
there's no sheriff. Boss nominates himself the new sheriff, and the
reluctant mayor (who is working with the local bandits) goes along with
it. Now Boss and Amos must clean up crime, defend the poor and win some
What's really amusing about this film is that it received a PG rating. There's some borderline nudity, and they use the N-word something like 200 times. But they never really swear otherwise, the violence is minimal by western standards and there's no sex (though it's hinted). Having seen other blaxploitation films (such as "Sweet Sweetback") I was surprised by the tameness.
They play really heavily on the race issue, not surprisingly. They even institute "black rules" as the new police, which is awesome (including banning the n-word, despite its prevalent use in this film). But the film is not derogatory to whites or blacks, really. It offers an interesting view where white people must be protected by the black man, and things work out fairly well (much to the people's initial chagrin).
Reviewer Vincent Canby of The New York Times described the film as "a pleasant surprise if you stumble upon it without warning." Canby characterized Williamson's acting as "an immensely self-assured parody of the Man With No Name played by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's films." I agree with the first part, although I think the second part might be giving this film just a little bit too much credit. But, perhaps not.
Canby finished the review by pointing out what made the film notable among black Westerns: "Most black Westerns either ignore race or make it the fundamental point of the movie. (This movie) somehow manages to do both quite successfully." And on this we agree completely -- race was both the issue and yet completely removed from the real point of the film. Which is why it works; it plays on your insecurities while convincing you they don't exist.
If you can get your hands on this one (I don't know how easy that is), I give it a very high recommendation. My only concern is that someone really needs to get a good transfer with quality picture and sound. The quality I saw was a VHS transfer with grainy footage and mediocre sound. This did nothing to take away from the brilliance of the film, but a smart action film like this one deserves better. Give me digital remastering and a Fred Williamson audio commentary.
Fred Williamson and D'urville Martin are two black bounty hunters that stumble into a town that is sorely in need of a sheriff. So what do they do? Why make themselves the sheriff and deputy of course. Now we know the white folk won't take a liking to that, especially the local bandit (played by William Smith) and his gang a' crackers. Not particularly distinguished from the blaxploitation Western sub-sub genre and not nearly as wild as the name suggests, 'Boss N!gger' is still good fun with a lot of humor (supplied mostly by Martin) and well-directed action scenes.
This is a review of "The Legend of N***er Charley", "The Soul of N***er
Charley" and "Boss N***er", a loose trilogy of films set in the
pre-Civil War South and starring Fred Williamson as N***er Charley, a
runaway slave. The first film, directed Martin Goldman, finds Charley
as a plantation slave who kills his master and goes on the run. He
teams up with Amos, another ex slave, and spends much of the film
dodging bullets, evading bounty hunters and shooting caricatures, all
dumb, racist white guys. The film ends with Charley heading further out
West, desperate to find some peace and live as a free man. Released at
the height of the blaxploitation craze, in the wake of surprise hit
"Shaft" and almost a decade before "Roots" (where "black" suddenly went
"mainstream" and "prestige"), "Legend" turned out to be one of the
highest grossing movies of 1972. A sequel, "Soul of N***er Charley",
The best of the series, "Soul" finds Charley as a near-mythical folk hero, a muscular black man who fights for right and has no qualms smashing the faces of racist white guys. The plot concerns Charley's battles with a Southern Colonel who oversees his own private slave trade, exporting slaves to Mexico where they're beaten and forced to work for a colony of Southern aristocrats.
The final film in the series, "Boss", was released in 1974, at the tail end of various civil rights and black power movements. Like its predecessors, its aesthetic is an absurd mix of action, exploitation, Italian Opera, western, comedy, race baiting, casual vulgarity and mid century urban nihilism. Like all the Charley films, and most blaxploitation films in general, the film isn't racially progressive, isn't a celebration of racial pride, but is rather a kind of vile, venting of black rage on white figures of power. Organizations like the NAACP and various black civil rights activists actively fought against the blaxploitation "movement", considering these films racist at worst, at best detrimental to efforts toward equality. In truth, the films were largely no more dumb than the "positive image" films (usually with Sidney Poitier as an upstanding black guy who schools racist whites) associated with the Black liberation film movements of the 1960s. Blaxploitation simply substituted angelic, gentlemanly blacks with violence, degeneracy, sex and escapist race bashing. It turned condescension into a kind of empowered irreverence. Both approaches attracted millions, but were equally dopey, putting forth fantastically unrealistic solutions to genuine problems, misunderstanding the systemic causes of racism and glorifying either the loutish elements of the black community or pandering to white ideas of what a "good black man should be". Virtually all these films were produced, directed, financed or green-lit by whites, for whom the dollar was always the bottom line. If more blood and nudity sold more tickets, then so be it. Story be damned. It would be almost a decade before black directors like Charles Burnett and Spike Lee came on the scene.
Today "blaxploitation" is an adjective. In the 70s it was a pejorative. Blacks, of course, were for a long while demonised in cinema. DW Griffith is the poster-boy for early Hollywood racism, with his Ku Klux loving "Birth of a Nation" and a bevy of other films ("One Exciting Night") which set in stone a series of racist caricatures. Ironically, Griffith's "Birth" was released the same year as "Darktown Jubilee", the first all black film with major roles for black actors. Today "Jubilee's" been lost. But from it you can trace a gradual relaxing of racist attitudes, until you reach Jules Dassin's "Uptight", 1970's "Cotton Comes" and two influential satires by Melvin Van Peebles, "Watermelon Man" and "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song". From these four films, blaxploitation would be born. Before directing "Song", Melvin suffered severe disillusionment with Hollywood, fled to France, became radicalised and spent some time drifting in a desert. With "Song" he actively set out to "undermine Hollywood's view of the world". But while the film did cause stirs it was endorsed by the Black Panthers, it fired up radicals, got attached to polemical manifestos, was celebrated as a "new" type of avant grade expression, was predicted to launch a "cinematic revolution" - the political and cinematic shake-up people expected didn't happen. Instead, Hollywood, recognising that there was now money to be made off black audiences, began bankrolling a plethora of black movie projects, most of which were blood and guts action (and sex) movies high on juice and short of substance. Any threat that Van Peebles may have posed was soon nullified. This led to term "blaxploitation"; blacks for bucks.
Like most exploitation films, the Charley series is explicitly about revenge. Revenge against slave masters, businessmen, sheriffs and white folk in general. "We've got us some more whites to catch!" is Charley's catchphrase, as he struts about to funk and disco tunes, acts cool, has casual sex and perforates dumb whites. Two of the rare masterpieces in this genre are Pontecorvo's "Burn!" and Jacopetti's "Farewell Uncle Tom". Both are by Italian directors and predate the American blaxploitation movement, which was heavily influenced by trashy Italian B movies, westerns, grind-house and Kung Fu. Because of their unique historical position, partaking of fascism but not scapegoated into petrification to the extent that Germany was, Italian film-makers tend to consistently approach issues like slavery and the Holocaust with rare skill.
Quentin Tarantino has made a career out of exploiting exploitation movies. He's done Kung Fu with "Kill Bill", blaxploitation with "Jackie Brown" ("Across 110th street", "Sheba Baby", "Foxy Brown", "Coffy"), American pulp with "Pulp" and Naziploitation with "Basterds". His "Django Unchained" seems ready to pillage Corbucci's "Django", the Charley movies, "Mandingo" and "Farewell Uncle Tom".
6/10 - Worth one viewing.
I saw the trailer for this on you tube and I laughed for 10 minutes straight ! I decided then to purchase the DVD . I like Fred Williamson , but I have found his filmography to be hit and miss. This movie is quite enjoyable actually and delivers the goods with the action and comedy. Plus we get an awesome Shaft like theme song, while there are better westerns and black exploitation films . This is a solid b movie with a great supporting cast . D'Urville Martin is great as Boss 's sidekick. Not to mention William Smith and R.G. Armstrong are great villains . In less p.c times this was considered fun for the whole family . So round up the whole family and watch Fred Williamson stick it to the man!
Boss N#gger is definitely not a prime sample of either western or blaxploitation but it's a genre crossover I'm glad happened because if it didn't happen back in the day it probably wouldn't ever. Perhaps the biggest problem in the movie is Fred Williamson's script, which bears all the marks of an inexperienced writer: too much exposition, flat characterization, scenes that seem to exist only to take the plot from point A to point B. Well, I guess few people are going to see a movie called "Boss N#gger" for its story, but it's details like these that make the difference between Coffy and the multitude of forgettable blaxploits of the early seventies. Williamson's script but be throwaway but when he dons his black cowboy hat and cheroot and transforms into black bounty-hunter Boss, he's as badass as he's ever been. Along with his associate D'Urville Martin ("Sheba Baby", "Dolemite", "Black Caesar") they rescue a black girl from the clutches of bandits before riding into a lawless town terrorized by a gang of cutthroats. He elects himself sheriff and rails against the corrupt mayor of the town and all the bigotry around him. Boss N#gger's seems to exist for no other reason than sticking it to "the man" and in that aspect the balance is heavily tipped towards the blaxploitation end of the equation. This is a blaxploit movie that only happens to take place in the old west. It's still a fairly entertaining diversion with quotable dialogue and all the amusing shenanigans one can expect from having a black sheriff in a town filled with white bigots. A kid is ridden down in slow motion, Williamson says things like "we've got some more whities to catch" and "Mayor, have somebody clean up ma office", D'Urville locks up the bank president for tearing up a note and when the mayor demands he's released he locks him up too for disturbing the peace. What starts as a funky, frolicking action western becomes a lot more violent in the final third and ends on quite a downbeat tone that comes eerily close to Sergio Corbucci's The Great Silence. Jack Arnold ("Creature from the Black Lagoon", "The Incredible Shrinking Man") directs.
I watched this movie the other day. Sound was a bit poor but otherwise
the film was in good shape.
A blaxploitation-western mix? Surely this could not be good?
But to my surprise it was!
Certainly, the acting was utterly hammy but that is to be expected in both blaxploitation and in westerns so in that aspect it is in no way a bad thing.
The plot is definitely not the worst one I've come across in any genre and the character's motivations generally fit in quite nicely.
Admittedly, the Blacksmith and was a bit underdeveloped.
The actors do their jobs decently, the fight scenes are lively and the music is catch as can be.
No major complaints from me.
Fred Williamson was one of the greatest of the 1970s blaxploitation stars, but as cool as he is, he can't make this one anything more than very average. Williamson and frequent co-star D'urville Martin ('Dolemite') play bounty hunters on the trail of no-good varmint William Smith ('Invasion Of The Bee Girls', 'The Ultimate Warrior', 'Maniac Cop') who bully the mayor of a small town (Peckinpah regular R.G. Armstrong) into letting them become sheriff and deputy. They make sport of the uptight white townsfolk, grab as much cash as they can, and wait for an opportunity to get their man. 'Boss N*gger' can't decide whether it wants to be a serious western or a spoof of the genre, and the comedy is broad, recycles much of the Cleavon Little schtick from Mel Brooks' 'Blazing Saddles', and is basically just not that funny. But when it takes the material seriously it shows promise, and seeing Fred Williamson battle b-grade legend William Smith is worth the rental. Williamson scripted as well as starred, and would have been better advised not to. It's the lame script that really lets this one down. The cast is good, and the direction, by 1950s monster movie favourite Jack Arnold, is strong enough. Williamson's charisma keeps this afloat, but to be honest, it's nothing special.
I love the prototypic and legendary Blaxploitation classics, such as "Black Ceasar" or "Shaft" for example, as much as the next cult cinema fanatic, but I must admit I always had a slight preference for what I call them "Blaxploitation with a plus" movies. I refer to the Blaxploitation films that simultaneously also venture into a totally different genre, like horror ("Blackula", "Abby") or psychedelic ("Ganja and Hess") or even Western. "Black Bounty Hunter", which is the alternative title that I'm forced to use because the website doesn't allow the usage of the titular N-word, is one of the only existing Blaxploitation westerns ever made! That little trivia aspect alone makes the film worth tracking down, and then I haven't even mentioned the fact that it is written by and starring the almighty Fred Williamson and directed by B-monster movie veteran Jack Arnold ("Creature from the Black Lagoon", "It came from Outer Space"). The film is fundamentally a parody of the western genre, but with plenty enough violence and action to satisfy hard-boiled genre fanatics, and with stellar acting performances and a funky swinging soundtrack atop. Whilst on the tail of wild west villain Jed Clayton, Boss and his loyal right hand Amos ride through the insignificant and Sheriff-less little town of San Miguel. Without consulting the townsfolk, and much against the will of the cowardly mayor Griffin, Boss declares himself Sheriff and Amos his deputy. They upset the conservative locals with their new laws and freshly invented money penalties, while patiently waiting for Jed to cross their paths. The comedy doesn't always work, except for a few notable moments with D'Urville Martin at his best, but the western action is old-fashioned good! Terrific supportive roles for R.G. Armstrong as the sleazy mayor and the stunning Barbara Leigh as one of Boss' romantic interests.
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