Rented this VHS tape up the yesterday at my local video rental place, and watched it last night. It was Directed for the most part by Sidney Poitier (his first directing gig) after Joseph Sergeant was fired. It was a full screen VHS but I don't know if it was originally shot in full matte or not.
It stars Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Cameron Mitchell. and a mostly all black cast. It tells the story of the Black "Exodusters" the freed ex-slaves that moved west out of the South (Louisiana) after the Civil War in all Black wagon trains.
Poitier plays Buck the wagon scout/wagon master, an ex-union cavalry soldier, who leads the various trains as they treck slowly across Texas looking for green valleys to settle. Since these trains have no set destination they set up squatters camps and till lands for accomodating land owwners and sharecrop (split the produce) with the them when they sell to nearby towns for travelling money.
The Exodusters however are plagued by Deshay (Cameron Mitchell) and his gang of "labor recruiters" they attack the wagon trains and destroy their supplies, livestock, and wagons killing the few who try and defend themselves. Deshay works for the Louisiana Plantations and wants the Exodusters" to turn around and go back and work the crops for them. Deshay wants to kill Buck. Deshay is parially dresed in a Union uniform, blue tunic and blue cavalry hat, and he looks great as the villain.
Belefonte plays "The Preacher" a picaresque con- man/preacher, who first has his horse stolen by Buck after Buck pursued by Deshay switches out his tired mount out on the prairie for The Preacher's fresh one. The Preacher reaches a shanty West Texas settlement and ties his horse up nad goes insearch of whiskey. Deshay finds the mount and surrounds Belefonte and offers him $500 dollars for Buck.
It definitely has the SW influence, all the costumes are dirty and the characters all look real, sweaty and gritty. Belefonte conceals a Colt in his big Bible. It even has a jews harp twangy score. Buck has a twin holster gunbelt that has two sawed off over & under shotguns plus a Colt 45 for armament. The town sets look straight out of a Leone film and the landscapes are great. It was filmed around Durango Mexico.
This film suprised me since I was expexting another Jim Brown type western where the the hero is dressed in a what seems as a more or less clean tailored costume (100 Rifles, El Condor) with Robert Conrad Wild Wild West type "stretch pants", lol . The costumes here look spot on.
This one was entertaining and the back & forth between Buck & The Preacher will remind you a little bit of Blondie & Tuco, it could have been way better but it was way, way more than I expected.
One obvious flaw is the too early demise of Deshay, the film continues on with minor secondary villians taking his place, it would have been better to have a grand confrontaion at the end.