Boss Nigger/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Boss Nigger
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Two black bounty hunters, Boss (Fred Williamson) and his partner Amos (D'urville Martin) are rounding up outlaws in the Southwest sometime in the late 1800s. While on the trail they come across some men trying to rape a young black woman named Clara Mae (Carmen Hayworth). Boss and Amos shoot them and bring Clara Mae to the town of San Miguel where they expect to see rewards for the criminals they've killed. We get to see how Amos operates when two white cowboys start harassing him and Boss. He shoots his gun to scare them and tells them to hold hands and skip along or else. So they do. Its one funny sight to see these badass cowboys skipping down the street like schoolgirls. The Mayor of the town (R.G. Armstrong) finds out about their arrival and tries to get them to leave but Boss and Amos arent budging. In fact, Boss and Amos decide to take over as Sheriff and Deputy of the town. This causes the white townspeople to worry (of course) and they have a meeting to decide what to do.

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Meanwhile, Boss and Amos are having a great time running things their own way. With Amos' new found power as a policeman he writes up a list that everyone must obey. For example, one day he says hello to a white man and woman in town and they dont return the greetings, so he hauls the man into the jail and doesnt let him out until he pays the fine. As this is going on, The Mayor has other plans. He spies on Clara Mae and tries to rape her. She seems like shes going to go along with it, but then knees him in the balls and tosses him out the door. Now that The Mayor knows he can't control the town any longer or get any nookie, he heads to see a known outlaw Jed Clayton (William Smith) and have him and his men come into San Miguel and kill Boss and Amos. While The Mayor is making plans to bring Boss and Amos down, our two heroes make friends with the local poor Mexican people who have been relegated to the outskirts of town. Since the town is called San Miguel, its clear that the white settlers took over and kicked the native inhabitants out. When Boss arrives he gives the Mexican people a boost. Boss even goes to the local general store and gives some of the kids candy. Boss also befriends a white woman named Miss Pruit who is very upper crust but really digs him. The action in the film is hard hitting as Boss uses a shotgun to kill his enemies, hes also great at hand to hand fighting. While Boss seems like an unstoppable hero for the majority of the story, there is a level of realism that is also shown in regards to his vulnerability towards the end. He may be The Boss, but even he bleeds. This aspect gives the film more of an emotional impact.

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Boss Nigger is a very entertaining film that was obviously influenced by Sergio Leone's Man with No Name Trilogy, Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter (1973) and even Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles (1974) which came out a year earlier. The dialogue is full of humor and wit and it boasts a very funky score which gives it an urban sound with a great rhythm even though its set in the Old West. The racial issue is of course at the forefront here as the original title shows. The N word is spoken freely throughout, but for some reason it never holds any power over the story. It's definitely an ugly racial slur but Fred Williamson's script makes Boss and Amos' strength as proud characters like a shield that deflects the sting of the word each time its uttered. One thing that was so great about Fred Williamson was that he became a hero for black audiences and white ones when the 70s Blaxploitation films came out. His no nonsense, badass attitude and super coolness spoke for him and he made some of the best black action films of the era.

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Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. He is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life.
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