Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kind of Watching It DVD's: Mean Johnny Barrows, The Black Six

The response from this blog is big! So much so, I was invited to Cans. I had to turn down that offer, I had 2 dollars and 15 DVD's to buy. Here's a few of the highlights...

The Black Six- 1974- This could be thought of as the nadir of the black action film genre. Not quite. The stats aren't terribly impressive here though. Six disillusioned Vietnam vets band together and go across country on their motorcycles. Actually it doesn't sound that bad. The problem? The actors. The Black Six were comprised of basically non-acting gridiron greats from the '70s. The guys are Lem Barney, Willie Lanier, Mercury Morris, Geno Washington, Carl Eller and Mean Joe Greene. I had all of their football cards! Weee!!! The story is an involving one and a depressing one. This also criss-crossed from crime drama to social statement like no ones business--and nothing worked.

Best Cameo: Baseball great Maury Wills as a football coach. I'm sick enough to think that's hilarious.

The Problem: Everything

Spoiler Alert: Like a few films of the style, this ended with a flame scene. I'd like to think this team of great guys made it out of their biggest challenge yet!

Reality: Goodbye Black Six

The Black Six's foolishness warmed me up to a true late-period genre classic/commercial flop 1975's Meet Johnny Burrows stars Fred Williamson as a disillusioned Vietnam Vet facing trials back in the world. Ok, it's not that deep. Fred's a loose cannon/bum until he gets an offer to be a killing machine. The cynic in me says Johnny liked being a hired assassin too.

The Problems: A lot. Williamson directed this so there's a lot of Fred here. Both Whitman and Roddy McDowell weren't that convincing as Italian sons of waring families. Whitman's accent is particularly atrocious. McDowell--who was pushing 50 was too darned old for the role.

The Best Thing: Johnny has a really nice theme song. From what I've seen, it was never issued. Darn it!

Proof I'm a Geek: See above

A really bizarre cameo...Elliott Gould fell by to play a gent among the sots and psychos, Professor Theodore Rasputin Waterhouse (really). Williamson totally broke character by actually smiling. Johnny Barrows has nothing to smile about--unless he's killing!

The Black Six **
Mean Johnny Burrows **1/2
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