For this month’s Living Room Film Club we spotlight Criterion Channel’s Black Westerns series with a discussion of BUCK AND THE PREACHER, directed by and starring Sidney Poitier. Guest speakers are Vassar College professor of film Mia Mask and Nashville Scene contributing writer Ron Wynn.
Criterion Channel subscribers can watch an interview with Mask, who served as guest curator for the Black Westerns series, here.
BUCK AND THE PREACHER
Dir. Sidney Poitier | USA | 1972 | 102 min. | PG
Civil War veteran Buck (Sidney Poitier) has signed on to guide a wagon train of newly freed slaves moving to claim homesteads in the west. Along with Buck’s wife, Ruth (Ruby Dee), who works tirelessly and devotedly alongside her beloved husband, their party includes the Preacher (Harry Belafonte), a greedy con man, formerly enslaved by a white minister, who loves money much more than he loves God. The pioneers’ peaceable westward passage is suddenly threatened by the sadistic Deshay (Cameron Mitchell) and his mob of vigilante night riders. And when this homicidal gang insists that the migrants should remain in the south as a source of cheap labor, the two forces meet in an intensely dramatic struggle. Please be advised: this film contains offensive racist language, racial stereotypes, and graphic violence directed against Black and Native American people. (Synopsis from the Criterion Channel.)
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About the speakers:
Mia Mask, Professor of Film, received her PhD from New York University. At Vassar College, Ms. Mask teaches African American cinema, Documentary History, seminars on special topics such as the horror film, and auteurs like Spike Lee, Charles Burnett and Ava DuVernay. She also teaches feminist film theory, African national cinemas, and genre courses. Her commentary can be heard on NPR.
Mask is the author of Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film, published by University of Illinois Press. Divas on Screen was featured on the public radio program “Tell Me More.” Formerly an assistant editor and regular contributor at Cineaste magazine, she has written film reviews and covered festivals for IndieWire.com, The Village Voice, Film Quarterly, Time Out New York, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Poughkeepsie Journal. Her criticism was anthologized in Best American Movie Writing. She is currently on the editorial board of The Black Scholar.
Ron Wynn is a veteran journalist, writer, editor and broadcaster. He’s currently a contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, columnist for the Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society, sports editor for the Tennessee Tribune and a contributor to JazzTimes and hosts the weekly talk show Freestyle on Fisk University’s WFSK-FM.