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A Gathering of Old Men (1987)

A regular day in a Louisiana sugarcane plantation changes course when a local white farmer is shot in self defense. A group of old, black men takes a courageous step by coming forward en ... See full summary »

Director:

Volker Schlöndorff (as Volker Schlondorff)

Writers:

Charles Fuller (screenplay), Ernest J. Gaines (novel)
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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Louis Gossett Jr. ... Mathu
Richard Widmark ... Sheriff Mapes
Holly Hunter ... Candy Marshall
Joe Seneca ... Clatoo
Will Patton ... Lou Dimes
Woody Strode ... Yank
Tiger Haynes Tiger Haynes ... Booker
Papa John Creach Papa John Creach ... Jacob
Julius Harris ... Coot
Rosanna Carter Rosanna Carter ... Beulah
Walter Breaux Walter Breaux ... Charlie
Joe 'Flash' Riley Joe 'Flash' Riley ... Jameson (as Jay 'Flash' Riley)
Danny Barker Danny Barker ... Chimley
Howard 'Sandman' Sims Howard 'Sandman' Sims ... Uncle Billy
P. Jay Sidney P. Jay Sidney ... Gable
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Storyline

A regular day in a Louisiana sugarcane plantation changes course when a local white farmer is shot in self defense. A group of old, black men takes a courageous step by coming forward en masse to take responsibility for the killing of a white racist, whom one of their members has shot. As the Sheriff confronts the suspects, the young plantation owner stands alone in her daring defense of this group of men, provoking racial tension that makes a compelling drama. Written by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Lifetime of Injustice...A Moment of Vengeance.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | West Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 May 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Murder on the Bayou See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Louis Gossett, Jr. saw ghosts while filming this at the hotel the cast stayed in. See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting cast, deep issues, average movie.
24 August 2002 | by makeminegreenSee all my reviews

Unfolding more like a play than a TV movie, A Gathering of Old Men amasses a worthy cast to slowly drive home a point about racism that shouldn't need making ... but with this group of talent, is still strong.

The story begins with Charlie (Breaux), a black man, on the run from a tractor (!) driven by an angry white Beau vowing to kill him. Charlie disappears into a shack, and when Beau follows him into the yard with a shotgun, another shotgun appears from the door of the shack and shoots him dead. Charlie and Mathu (Gossett) emerge, Charlie stammers some excuses to take off, and Mathu shoos him away just before firebrand Candy (Hunter), who's known and "protected" Mathu and his people all her life, appears. Without asking, she assumes he's the murderer and begins to recruit every elderly black man in the surrounding quarter to appear with a recently fired shotgun -- all know what she's up to, and all fall in like soldiers fighting their own last, great war to protect Mathu by assuming the mantle of guilt. After all, each has a reason to hate the racist Beau and his family, so each has a reason to stand tall and claim the murder regardless of who pulled the trigger.

Along with a taciturn Louis Gossett Jr, most of the "old men" are familiar as supporting and background actors, and one could stretch the point that the fierce pride and determination each brings to his lifetime-of-indignity role comes from a career often stifled by the Hollywood hand that should have fed him. But even without the big plot moments like Joe Seneca's emotional speech about his son's unjust death, their screen presence -- one wears a suit, another has donned his old Army uniform -- makes a telling point. Add a soundtrack by jazz bassist Ron Carter and the live musical presence of legendary fiddler Papa John Creach as one of the old men, and the production explodes with atmosphere.

The film is based on the novel by Ernest J. Gaines (Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman), adapted by Charles Fuller (A Soldier's Play/Story), and directed by Volker Schlöndorff (Palmetto). Gaines' novel is told from numerous points of view, and Fuller and Schlöndorff use this device just often enough to confuse an otherwise straight story line. Other weaknesses, mostly from the "white" side of the tale, drag the pace and weaken the overall message. The issues the story would like to cover are just too deep to fit into a 90-minute movie.

But aaaaieee -- what a gathering of talented "old men"!


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