The Black Brigade (January 27, 1970)
Released on January 27, 1970: A red-neck captain is put in charge of a rag-tag group of black soldiers during WWII for a suicide mission to save a bridge.
Produced by Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas
Directed by George McCowan
Written by Aaron Spelling and David Kidd
The Actors: Robert Hooks (Lieutenant Edward Wallace), Stephen Boyd (Captain Beau Carter), Billy Dee Williams (Private Lewis), Richard Pryor (Private Jonathan Crunk), Roosevelt 'Rosie' Grier (Big Jim), Susan Oliver (Anna Renvic), Moses Gunn (Private Doc Hayes), Glynn Turman (Private George Brightman), Paul Stewart (General Holden Clark), Bobby Johnson (Robinson), Paul Mooney (soldier), Napoleon Whiting (Fuzzy the deaf soldier)
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The Red-Neck and the Black Brigade
If you are an old movie fan, you have seen plenty of 1944 movies telling the tale of WWII, but this movie, made in 1970 by Aaron Spelling and produced by Danny Thomas tells a WWII adventure that you would not have seen in 1944, the setting of this battle adventure.
I was not born yet while World War Two raged, but I was alive and of fighting age when this movie was produced. I have a hunch, just an inkling, that the characters in this story are molded after Viet Nam personalities, not World War Two doughboys.
This is a message movie, like many movies. It is a time-capsule of race relations in 1970, a year before Archie Bunker would hit the television screens with a similar message, using comedy instead of drama. The beginning of the movie illustrates race relations in 1970 as they were, and the ending of the story shows race relations as they should be. Sure, by 1970 racially bigoted folk learned how to speak 'politically correct' when they needed to, but sadly, often like today, many bigots hold the same attitudes in their heart. Fortunately they are an ever-shrinking group of people.
Beau Carter is a red-neck World War II Army Captain that is ordered to visit his General in a French villa. The General explains that there is a bridge over a dam deep in enemy territory in France that our advancing forces need to use in a couple of days in order to make progress on this front. Unfortunately, the Germans know the strategic value of this dam, and have set explosives around the dam so that if they are in danger of losing control of the bridge and dam, they can blow it up as they retreat. Captain Carter must take a small group of soldiers ahead of the main group and prevent the Germans from blowing up the dam before our forces reach it.
The General tells Carter that the soldiers he will take with him belong to the "B Company," which is already behind enemy lines and the closest to the dam. When Carter meets up with B Company, it turns out that it is a rag-tag group of African American soldiers assigned to fill in trenches and latrines after the fighting army has moved on. None of them has seen any action, and this group never even went through boot camp or had any real military training. Redneck Carter must turn a group of mis-fit black men into a fighting force that can outwit the best of the enemy army . . . A suicide mission if ever there was one.
I remember Richard Pryor as one of the funniest men on the planet in the 1970's, and I remember the football legend Rosie Grier. They both give amazing acting performances in this movie, and I have a whole new respect for Richard Pryor - he was much more than just a funny man. His performance in this movie is outstanding, and worthy of award. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Billy Dee Williams
Billy Dee Williams
Billy Dee Williams
Stephen Boyd and Robert Hooks
Stephen Boyd and Susan Oliver