|Index||8 reviews in total|
Over the years I missed viewing this film and was extremely surprised at the great acting by the entire cast. I remembered that this film was created from a Tony Award winning off Broadway hit play and its deep look into the African American community in the 1970's. James Earl Jones,(Johnny Williams) is a house painter and has an extra hobby writing poetry. Cicely Tyson,(Mattie Williams) plays the wife of Johnny and tries to do her very best to work and keep the family from going down under during rough times and poverty all around them. Louis Gossett,Jr., (Dr. Dudley Stanton), is a very good friend to Johnny and helps him out financially when he spends all his income on booze and can't make the house payments. Super stars, Lou Gossett and Earl Jones make this a classic film and worth every minute of your time to view this film.
There are several things to understand about this movie. 1. The actors and actresses are African American and at the time of the movie were not necessarily appreciated for their outstanding talents that have been showcased in later years. 2. Comments that the "gang" members were hokey perhaps come from those who have never been residents in the Watts area of LA, the south side of Chicago or the east side of Detroit in the early 1970's. (3) I find that the use of the"n" word brings about discussion with today's students of communication and film who are products of the rap culture's influences. All in all the film's adaptation from the original play is a good one.
This film contains several well known actors in some different types of
roles than the ones we are used to seeing them in. For instance,
there's Roger E. Mosely (TC on Magnum PI) as Big Moe, an
activist/leader & Glynn Turman (Cooley High & the TV show, A Different
World) as Jeff, who has just come home from flight school and is trying
to stay out of trouble, but yet at the same time help the cause and his
friends. With this movie, we get to see James Earl Jones (Johnny) as a
regular everyday working man, a house painter, who just happens to have
a knack for some of the most beautiful poetry around. Though he has his
own problems, he still tries the best way he knows how to support his
family. He is very proud of his son Jeff's accomplishments in flight
school and wants more than anything to see him in his uniform. Cicely
Tyson plays the ever-supporting wife, Mattie, who loves her husband
(despite his 'ways') and family more than anything in the world. She
tries to keep herself together even though she and her family are
facing some very trying times. The grandmother, Geneva Wilhemnia Brown,
is played by the lovely Hilda Haynes. She adds a bit of comic flair at
times to the film and interacts especially well with Johnny. The
talented Lou Gossett is Johnny's best friend & confidante, who often
has to bail him out. These are two buddies who really love each other,
even though they rib on each other a lot. The role of Anne was
brilliantly done by Jonelle Allen as Jeff's fiancé.
In this film, Johnny & his son, Jeff must ultimately choose between what is right & what is best for for the family. These two strong-willed, passionate men are more alike than they realize and Mattie often has to be the voice of reason & neutrality. I feel that the ending, should have been more complete and given more of an "ending", so that the viewer wouldn't be left with any questions.
A well made film, though it doesn't seem to be too well known. This is the film adaptation of an off-Broadway play that garnered a Tony! Enjoy this worthwhile family drama!
This is a must see film.This movie is poetry in itself. Thumbs up to this work!!! The unconditional love between Tyson's character and Jones' character exuded the power of 'Black Love'. The very fact that through out the entire movie, you were constantly reminded of God's power and creativity, was captivating, especially the poetry. Turman's character's awakening to the sleeping giant within, to fight the oppressive system that has held back the African American race for generations, decision to fight back with intelligence instead of violence was a move in the right direction to solid change. Violence is only a temporary solution to a life long problem. To not spoil the end, Jones' character, what can I say, selfless hero! This movie should be viewed by all young African American men and women. This will remain a classic!
"The River Niger" is very much a time capsule of the mid-1970s. There's
a lot of good acting, some bad acting, and some pretty much middle of
the road direction. The director, Krishna Shah, is probably the main
thing which keeps this good film from being great. He just doesn't have
a real vision for this sort of thing. As you might expect from a stage
adaptation, Joseph A. Walker's script is why this is worth watching. He
writes excellent dialogue, characters, and best of all - poetry. Then
again, there's a bit too much emphasis on the self-conscious black
identity stuff, even for 1976.
James Earl Jones, who plays the poet, is the best thing about "The River Niger". He is very compelling, intense, and instantly likable. His performance, along with that of Louis Gossett Jr. (credited here as Lou Gossett), makes one wish there was a better made film to frame it. Definitely worth seeing, though.
I love James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson as a couple. They live in the ghetto or slums of Los Angeles, California in the 1970s. The rest of the cast includes the under-used Hilda Haynes and Louis Gosset Jr. The story of Johnny Williams as a poet and his ill wife played by Tyson is not so bad and their surroundings are undesirable as they battle crime, gangs, violence, and living in a tough part of the city. Jones and Tyson are a formidable pair and strong together on screen and they are worth watching the film alone even if it's not that great on paper. JOnes's performance elevates the role into a complex character of JOhnny Williams and there are familiar actors and actresses also in this film. The River Niger might not be that great but it's not that bad and Tyson and Jones are so strong together that you can see them at odds as well. Johnny loves his wife, Mattie, and strives as a poet but the scene where he reads to Mattie is heartbreaking, emotional, and worth watching. I didn't care for the other scenes involving the gangs, violence, and crime. I just loved watching Tyson and JOnes as a couple.
You don't have to be black to fully appreciate this film but..... What am I saying, of course you do! This film may be based on an award winning off Broadway hit play, but that does not prevent it from being a dated piece of boring black angst. James Earl Jones, Lou Gossett & Cicely Tyson give very credible performances, but the actors playing the younger roles were so hokey, the overall film becomes unwatchable. The young actress made up to be the grandmother was particularly inept. As much as I admire James Earl Jones, I must admit that I could not sit through the whole thing, so I do not know how it ends.
This film was a definite "okay". It didn't have the impact that many films would have with such a topic. But, the general idea was there and that's what was so important. The vast difference between James Earl Jones being a drunk bum, to a philosophical poet speaking of something as beautiful as the Niger River. He was brilliant of course. Not as well as "Finder's Fee", but that really can't be beat. Big nods to the other actors and writers trying their hardest to make a serious film during the famous black exploitation era. You have to appreciate that aspect of the film. Krishan Shan does deserve credit but, not fantastic.........................................the end
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