Buck and the Preacher is a 1972 American Western film directed by Columbia Pictures and starring Sidney Poitier. It was written by Ernest Kinoy and directed by Sidney Poitier. Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and Ruby Dee co-star in the film. ThisThis is Sidney Poitier’s first film as a director. Poitier “displayed a skill to make his most stately movies lack easy, unguaranteed, and wild-hearted humour,” according to Vincent Canby of the New York Times.
This film defied Hollywood’s Western conventions by featuring black actors as the main characters and depicting both tension and solidarity among African Americans and Native Americans in the late 1800s. Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Don Frank Brooks performed on the soundtrack composed by jazz legend Benny Carter.
Following the American Civil War, many abolitionists fled to the West in search of free land and a better way of life. Buck, a former slave and Union Army sergeant, establishes himself as an independent waggon master in the west for freed slave waggons. Buck is well-versed in the area and charges reasonable fees to the waggon trains that hire him. He also has a working relationship with the local Indian tribes, which charge infringement fees to car trains that cross Indian territory. In exchange, the villagers are given the freedom to move freely across Indian territory and hunt for a few bushes to feed the villagers. However, not everyone in the area welcomes the black settlers to the west. Alarmed by the loss of previously free slave labour, Southern plantation owners hire a gang of white rogues and outlines to keep former black slaves from fleeing to the West. Hired rogue bands attack and destroy waggon trains to achieve this goal.
This may be the first Western with two black leads, as the majority of white characters are relegated to supporting or stereotypically vile roles. The leaders were Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, who temporarily replaced director Joseph Sergeant. Poitier plays Buck, a former cavalryman who now works as a waggon master transporting former slaves to a new life in the West. Before joining forces with him, Belafonte plays the preacher, a skilled con man who considers betraying Buck and accusing the evil neighbour Deshay (a squinting cigar chomping Cameron Mitchell).
There isn’t much moral code in this film, which was made in the early 1970s. The good guys rob banks and steal from one another, and the explanation that the city dwellers who are worried about a posse ride to catch the duo is a mistake. The film appears to be a semi-comic action film, but it isn’t particularly funny, and the action scenes are few and far between. The film also lacks dialogue and is played in silence for long stretches of time. This was Poitier’s directorial debut, and it has a few glaring narrative gaps, as well as strange attention that somehow finds its way onto the screen, causing the film to rarely flow as it should. Although Belafonte is a brilliant and morally dubious preacher, Poitier as an actor never quite convinces.
The Civil War is over, and slaves have been legally released, according to the prologue to the opening credits. If the promise of land and liberty was not kept, many ex-slaves fled the country in search of new frontiers where they could be freed. TheyThey put their hopes in the hands of the few black waggon masters who knew their way around the west.
Nightriders and junkies hired by unknown parties to find and return them to the fields faced not only a hostile wilderness, but also being pursued. ThisThis image is dedicated to men, women, and children who are buried in unmarked tombs, as unmarked as their place in history.
BUCK AND THE PREACHER CAST
- Sidney Pouter acted as Buck
Harry Belafonte acted as the Preacher
- Ruby Dee in as Ruth
- Cameron michell in as Deshay
- Denny Miller in as Floyd
Nita Talbot in as Madame Esther
- John Kelly in as Sheriff
- Tony Brubaker in as Headman
- Bobby Johnson acting as Man Who was Shot
- James McEachin in as Kingston
- Clarence Muse in as Cudjo
- Lynn Hamilton acting as Sarah
- Doug Johnson in as Sam
- Errol John in and as Joshua