Buck and the Preacher (1972)

GP   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Western


Buck and the Preacher (1972) Poster

A wagon master and a con-man preacher help freed slaves dogged by cheap-labor agents out West.


6.5/10
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  • Sidney Poitier in Buck and the Preacher (1972)
  • Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee in Buck and the Preacher (1972)
  • Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier in Buck and the Preacher (1972)
  • Sidney Poitier in Buck and the Preacher (1972)
  • Harry Belafonte in Buck and the Preacher (1972)
  • Sidney Poitier in Buck and the Preacher (1972)

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14 November 2008 | JoeytheBrit
Unusual Theme, but otherwise ordinary western
This might possibly be the first Western to feature two black leads with white characters largely relegated to peripheral roles – or stereotypically villainous parts. Sidney Poitier – who replaced Joseph Sergeant as director one week into the shoot – and Harry Belafonte play the leads. Poitier is Buck, a former cavalry man now acting as a wagon-master guiding former slaves to a new life in the west. Belafonte is the preacher, a semi-reformed con man who briefly considers betraying Buck and his charges to the evil nightrider Deshay (a squinting, cigar-chomping Cameron Mitchell) before throwing in his lot with him.

This being a film of the early 70s, there isn't much of a moral code here. The good guys steal from one another and rob banks, a character defect shrugged off with the explanation that the town folk – who are pre-occupied on a posse-ride to catch the duo as they rob the bank – deserve to be robbed. The film is presumably supposed to be a semi-comic action film but it isn't particularly funny and the action scenes are few and far between. The film is also light on dialogue with lengthy spells played out in silence. This was Poitier's directorial debut and it shows in some glaring narrative gaps and a strange kind of painstaking attention that somehow transmits itself onto the screen so that the film rarely seems to flow the way it should. Poitier never really convinces as an actor either, although Belafonte is a standout as the sneaky, morally dubious preacher.

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