Novel Review: Divine Assassin by Bob Reiss

After terrorists kill his fiancée for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Tim Currie is determined to get justice.  Unfortunately, the police can offer him little support and the U.S. intelligence community doesn’t seem to be interested in helping him either.  The problem is that the attack that led to the death of Currie’s fiancée was ordered by someone who doesn’t live in the United States and who doesn’t have the slightest concern about the innocent people who have died as a result of his actions.  Realizing that he is going to have to get justice on his own, Currie turns to the only man that he feels that he can trust.

Long before his fiancée was murdered, Tim Currie was one of the many Americans held hostage in Iran.  During that time, he had two friends, a mouse who was callously killed by a brutal guard and a cellmate who was frequently tortured for being a spy.  His cellmate may have used the name Charles Murphy but he was actually a mercenary named Zarek.  The amoral Zarek owes Currie a favor and Currie intends to collect.  He wants Zarek to train him to be an assassin so that Currie can kill the man that he holds responsible for his fiancée’s death, Libyan dictator Muammar Quaddafi!

As you probably already guessed, this book was written long before the Libyan Civil War and the real-life Qaddafi’s very public execution in 2011.  Indeed, Divine Assassin was originally published in 1985!  Reading it today, it’s interesting to see that, nearly 40 years ago, people were just as concerned with and confused by Middle Eastern politics as they are today.  Other than the fact that the Qaddafi on the book is described as being in his 40s, what we read about the fictional Qaddafi pretty much mirrors what was said of the real Qaddafi in the days before his death.  Of course, needless to say, there’s more going on in this book than just Tim Currie’s search for vengeance and Qaddafi’s amazing arrogance.  It quickly turns out that there’s quite a few people and nations looking to use the instability in the Middle East to their advantage and again, it’s interesting to see that the discussion around the Middle East really hasn’t changed that much over the past few decades.

As for the book itself, it’s an entertaining and relentlessly paced thriller, one that features a sympathetic protagonist and several memorable supporting characters.  The cynical Zarek (who also happens to be terminally ill) gets all of the best lines while two other Americans, a police inspector and Currie’s ex-wife, try (and often fail) to serve as a voice of reason to Currie’s obsessive attempts to get revenge.  The villains are memorably evil, with a German assassin especially making himself so loathsome that the reader will eagerly look forward to his comeuppance.  The dialogue is often sharp and there are moments of unexpected wit to be found throughout the book.  All in all, this a good and quick read.  It would have made a good movie.  Actually, it still could.  It’s not like Qaddafi was ever the only terrorist-supporting dictator in the world.

January Positivity: Forever and a Day (dir by Zeke Jeremiah)

In a small Texas town, life seems to be going as it always does.

High school freshman Daniel (Keegan Bouton) spends most of his time hanging out with his best friend, Haley (Charlotte Delaney Riggs).  They walk around town together.  They explore the woods together.  They talk about their first year in high school and which teachers they like and which they dislike.  When they see one of their classmates getting picked on by a group of bullies, Haley wants to do something to stop it while Daniel argues that there’s nothing they can do.

Besides, they have an even more pressing concern.  Haley’s mother (Mercedes Peterson) has begun to flirt with Daniel’s father (Trey Guinn)!  In a well-written and well-acted scene, they sit in a car and watch as Haley’s mom talks to Daniel’s dad and both of them discuss the things that their parents do while flirting, just to watch in silent horror as their parents proceed to do every one of those things.  Though they may be best friends, they’re still a little bit creeped out by the idea of their parents dating.  Daniel, especially, still thinks that his father and mother might someday get back together.

From the start, the viewer is aware that something tragic is going to happen.  The town is too perfect and Haley and Daniel’s friendship is too heartfelt for there not to be a tragedy waiting around the corner.  And, from the minute we see poor Colby (Holdan Mallouf) getting pushed around by Travis (Blaze Freeman) and his gang, we can pretty much guess what that tragedy will involve.  It’s just a question of who, amongst the character that we’ve met, will be unlucky enough to be in the hallway when Colby finally snaps.

It may sounds melodramatic but, unfortunately, it’s also an honest portrayal of the fears that everyone has when it now comes to high school.  School shooting are a tragedy that few of us can get our heads around, which is one reason why people are often more interested in using them to score political points than to actually discuss the events that led up to each shooting and the culture that produced them.  This film does a good job of examining the aftermath of the shooting and the struggle of people to understand both how it could have happened and how it could have been prevented.  This film emphasizes love and faith as a way to both deal with tragedy and to combat the anger and depression that leads to it happening.  No one was willing to stand up for Colby and the only person who shows any real concern for him was led away by her best friend.

(I do have to say that I cringe a little bit whenever school shooters are portrayed as just being stereotypical nerds who snapped because the bullies wouldn’t leave them alone.  That describes a few school shooter but it certainly doesn’t describe shooters like Nikolas Cruz, Adam Lanza, or the two Columbine shooters.  Portraying any kid who is picked on as being a ticking time bomb just further stigmatizes the socially awkward.)

Forever and a Day is a low-budget film and it’s hardly flawless.  (I could have done without the narrator.)  But, at the same time, it deals with a difficult subject with emotional honesty and the cast does a good job inhabiting their characters.  In the end, it’s a film that asks all of us to treat each other with kindness and there’s nothing wrong with that.

McBain (1991, directed by James Glickenhaus)

In the year 1973, Bobby McBain (Christopher Walken) was an American POW, fighting for his life in a North Vietnamese prison camp that was run by a general so evil that he wore a necklace of human ears.  Luckily, on the last day of the war, McBain was rescued by Roberto Santos (Chick Vennerra).  When Bobby asked how he could ever repay Santos, Santos gave him half of a hundred dollar bill and told him that someday, Santos would give him the other half.  McBain swears that he will be ready when the day comes to get the other half.  I guess he’s like Caine in Kung Fu, waiting for the chance to snatch the pebble from his master’s hand.

15 years later, McBain is a welder in New York.  One day, while sitting in a bar, he watches as Santos is executed on live television after a failed attempt to overthrow the dictator of Colombia.  Shortly afterwards, McBain is approached by Santos’s sister (Maria Conchita Alonzo), who asks McBain to help her finish Santos’s revolution.  McBain tells her a long story about attending Woodstock and then reunites with his Vietnam War buddies, Frank (Michael Ironside!), Eastland (Steve James), Dr. Dalton (Jay Patterson), and Gil (Thomas G. Waites).  After killing a bunch of drug dealers, stealing their money, and harassing Luis Guzman, the gang heads for Colombia.

I wonder how many people have watched this movie over the years with the expectation that it would be a live action version of the famous Rainier Wolfcastle film that was featured in several episodes of The Simpsons.  Unfortunately, this movie has nothing to do with the Simpsons version of McBain.  (Sorry, no “Bye, book.”)  Instead, it’s just another strange and overlong action film from director James Glickenhaus.  The film mixes scene of total carnage with dialogue that often seems to be going off on a totally unrelated tangent, like McBain’s musings about what Woodstock ultimately stood for.  Walken doesn’t seem to be acting as much as he’s parodying his own eccentric image.  Walken takes all of his usual quirks and trademark vocal tics and turns them up to 11 for this movie.

Even though the movie is twenty minutes too long, it still feels like scenes are missing.  Alonzo leaves Colombia on a mule and then is suddenly in New York.  (The mule is nowhere to be seen.)  We don’t actually see Walken recruiting the majority of his team.  Instead, they just show up in his house.  Once the action moves to Colombia, it turns out that overthrowing the government is much simpler than it looks.  While the rebels lay down their lives while attacking the palace, McBain and his crew pretty much stroll through the movie without receiving even a scratch.  Maybe welders should be put in charge of all of America’s foreign policy adventures.  It couldn’t hurt.

With its hole-filled plot and confusingly edited combat scenes, McBain isn’t great but 80s action enthusiasts should enjoy seeing Michael Ironside and Steve James doing their thing.  Others will want to see it just for Christopher Walken’s characteristically odd performance.  He may not be Rainier Wolfcastle but, for this movie, Christopher Walken is McBain.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.7 “Julie’s Guy” and 3.8 “Playing With Pain”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

I’ll always remember….

Episode 3.7 “Julie’s Guy”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 4th, 1997)

Because Julie is incapable of doing anything that doesn’t somehow involve basketball, she is dating yet another basketball player.  You would think that she would have learned her lesson after Chris cheated on her and then Josh mysterious disappeared after the end of Season 2.  Of course, Chris and Josh were both teammates of Julie’s.  This time, Julie is dating Jason Redman, who plays for another team!

Needless to say, the other Tornadoes are not happy about this.  They’re not sure if they can trust Julie to put aside her feelings and play as a member of the team.  This is a pretty stupid concern.  Julie has been the show’s main character for two and a half seasons and we still don’t know a thing about her beyond the fact that she plays basketball and she brags nonstop about winning.

Once again, the Tornadoes play terribly for the first half of the game.  Fortunately, Fuller takes the time to yell at them in the locker room.  Everyone realizes they can trust Julie.  The Tornadoes go on to win by one point.  For all the bragging this team does, continually winning by only one point really isn’t that impressive.  Most good teams can actually win by several points.

Anyway, this one was pretty forgettable.  I have a feeling that we’ll probably never hear another word about Julie dating Jason.

Episode 3.8 “Playing with Pain”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 4th, 1997)

Coach Fuller is gone again and Assistant Coach Keelor (Todd Fraser) is in charge of the team.  The last time that Fuller was absent from the show, during the Fighting Words episode, it was explained that it was because he had the mumps.  This time, no explanation is given for Fuller’s absence.  I’m going to guess that Fighting Words and Playing With Pain were envisioned as airing back-to-back but that NBC showed them out-of-order.  This is something that NBC frequently did with its TNBC shows and, as a result, the continuity of these shows were always out-of-whack.  Its almost as if NBC just didn’t care.

Anyway, at the start of this episode, Keelor announces that a scout is coming from the University of Arizona to watch Michael play.  The scout turns out to be someone named David Stoudemire.  By the way the audience goes crazy whenever he shows up in a scene, I’m guessing he was a basketball player.  Like most of the real-life basketball players who showed up on Hang Time, Stoudemire was hopefully better at playing basketball than acting.

Anyway, Michael really wants to impress the scout but, while practicing with Julie, he seriously sprains his ankle.  (Even though it looks like it was Michael’s fault because of the way he landed, I’m still going to blame Julie.  Julie was so upset over not being the center of attention that she goaded Michael into practicing too hard, knowing that he would end up spraining his ankle.)  Worried that he’ll be benched if he tells anyone that he’s injured, Michael tries to play through the pain.  This is something many pro athletes have done.  From personal experience, I can tell you that this is also something that many dancers have done.  I hurt my ankle so many times when I was younger that it was probably more of a surprise when I didn’t injure it than when I did.  You take a bunch of pain killers and then you do the best you can before passing out in the dressing room afterwards.  However, since this is a TNBC show, Michael dramatically reinjures himself while playing basketball and ends up screaming in pain while everyone watches.  In the locker room, both Assistant Coach Keelor and David Stoudemire tell him that he’s a dumbass.

Bye bye, Arizona!

Here Are The 2022 Nominations of the Columbus Film Critics Association!

Last night, the Columbus Film Critics Association announced their nominations for the best of 2022!

And here they are:

Best Film
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Glass Onion
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
The Banshees of Inisherin
The Fabelmans
The Menu
Women Talking

Best Director
Todd Field, Tár
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
Sarah Polley, Women Talking
Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans

Best Lead Performance
Cate Blanchett, Tár
Olivia Colman, Empire of Light
Danielle Deadwyler, Till
Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Ralph Fiennes, The Menu
Brendan Fraser, The Whale
Mia Goth, Pearl
Paul Mescal, Aftersun
Margot Robbie, Babylon
Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Supporting Performance
Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Paul Dano, The Fabelmans
Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness
Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin
Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin
Janelle Monáe, Glass Onion
Keke Palmer, Nope
Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Ensemble
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Glass Onion
Women Talking

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work)
Hong Chau, The Menu and The Whale
Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once and Halloween Ends
Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Batman, and Thirteen Lives
Mia Goth, Pearl and X
Tilda Swinton, The Eternal Daughter, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, and Three Thousand Years of Longing
Anya Taylor-Joy, Amsterdam, The Menu, and The Northman

Breakthrough Film Artist
Austin Butler, Elvis – (for acting)
Hong Chau, The Menu and The Whale – (for acting)
Zach Cregger, Barbarian – (for directing, screenwriting, and acting)
Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans – (for acting)
Charlotte Wells, Aftersun – (for directing and screenwriting)

Best Cinematography
Russell Carpenter, Avatar: The Way of Water
Ben Davis, The Banshees of Inisherin
Claudio Miranda, Top Gun: Maverick
Linus Sandgren, Babylon
Hoyte Van Hoytema, Nope

Best Film Editing
Sarah Broshar and Michael Kahn, The Fabelmans
Bob Ducsay, Glass Onion
Eddie Hamilton, Top Gun: Maverick
A. Sreekar Prasad, RRR
Paul Rogers, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Adapted Screenplay
Guillermo del Toro and Patrick McHale, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Dean Fleischer-Camp, Jenny Slate, and Nick Paley, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Samuel D. Hunter, The Whale
Rian Johnson, Glass Onion
Rebecca Lenkiewicz, She Said
Sarah Polley and Miriam Toews, Women Talking

Best Original Screenplay
Todd Field, Tár
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
Jordan Peele, Nope
Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, The Menu
Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, The Fabelmans

Best Score
Michael Abels, Nope
Carter Burwell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Alexandre Desplat, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Justin Hurwitz, Babylon
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Bones and All
John Williams, The Fabelmans

Best Documentary
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Fire of Love
Good Night Oppy
Moonage Daydream

Best Foreign Language Film
All Quiet on the Western Front
Decision to Leave
Saint Omer

Best Animated Film
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Mad God
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Turning Red

Best Comedy
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Glass Onion
The Menu
Triangle of Sadness
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Best Overlooked Film
After Yang
Confess, Fletch
God’s Country
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The winners will be announced on January 5th!

Monday Live Tweet Alert: Join Us For Prey of the Jaguar and Primal Fear!

As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in hosting a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, for #MondayActionMovie, the film will be 1996’s Prey of the Jaguar!  Selected and hosted by @BunnyHero, Prey of the Jaguar stars not just Linda Blair but also Maxwell Caulfield!  Rex Manning Day came early! The movie starts at 8 pm et and it is available on YouTube.


Following #MondayActionMovie, Brad and Sierra will be hosting the #MondayMuggers live tweet.  Tonight’s movie, starting at 10 pm et, will be 1996’s Primal Fear, starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Edward Norton!  Primal Fear can be found on Prime!


It should make for a night of intense viewing and I invite all of you to join in.  If you want to join the live tweets, just hop onto twitter, start Prey of the Jaguar at 8 pm et, and use the #MondayActionMovie hashtag!  Then, at 10 pm et, switch over to prime, start Primal Fear and use the #MondayMuggers hashtag!  The live tweet community is a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.  And reviews of these films will probably end up on this site at some point over the next few weeks. 


The Eric Roberts Collection: Deadline (dir by Curt Hahn)

In the year 1993, a black teenager named Wallace Sampson was shot and murdered in the small town of Amos, Alabama.  The murderer was never caught.  In fact, according to most people in the town, the murder was never even really investigated.  The town’s white leaders, many of whom were members of the Ku Klux Klan, swept the murder under the rug.

20 years later, Trey Hall (Lauren Jenkins) is determined to solve Wallace’s murder.  Trey may be the daughter of the richest man in town but, as she puts it, she was practically raised by Wallace’s mother, Mary Pell Sampson (Jackie Welch).  Mary Pell Sampson is the long-time maid of Trey’s father, Everett Hall (David Dwyer).  When journalist Matt Harper (Steve Talley) comes down from Tennessee to do a story on another murder, Trey tells him that he should totally ditch the recent murder and instead investigate the older murder.  Matt, who is currently in the process of being cancelled due to a poorly written headline, decides that he wants to investigate and report on the death of Wallace Sampson.  His editor agrees, on the condition that he work with the older and more cynical Ronnie Bullock (Eric Roberts).

While investigating Wallace’s murder, Matt has to deal with his own very messy personal life.  His fiancée, Delana (Anna Felix), wants to call off the wedding because Matt is too obsessed with work.  His father (J.D. Souther) is dying of cancer but can still find the time to scold Matt for ending a sentence with a preposition.  Finally, Matt is not happy about having work with Ronnie, who is an old school reporter who travels with a gun and who has little use for the demands of society.  When Matt accuses Ronnie of being racist, Ronnie angrily corrects him.  When Matt accuses Ronnie of being sexist, Ronnie just shrugs.  It’s really the type of thing that only Eric Roberts could pull off.

Deadline is loosely based on a true story and it’s certainly a well-intentioned film.  Unfortunately, the majority of the performances feel amateurish, the pace is rather slow, and the bad guys are so obviously evil that the film itself feels a bit cartoonish.  (If only all murderers were as easy to pick out as they are in this film….)  It suffers from the same problem that afflicts a lot of films about civil rights in the South, in that the black characters are often pushed to the background and left undeveloped while the film focuses on the nobility of rich white liberals.  Again, the intentions are good but the execution leaves a bit to be desired.

That said, Eric Roberts is well-cast as Ronnie Bullock and, whenever he’s onscreen, he brings some much-needed energy to the film.  In some ways, Ronnie is a cliché.  He’s the cynical, politically incorrect journalist who, deep down, still believes in doing the right thing.  But Roberts manages to bring some nuance to both the character and the film.  The viewer will be happy every time that Roberts steps into a scene.  Eric Roberts’s performance is the highlight of the film and the best reason to see Deadline.

Previous Eric Roberts Films That We Have Reviewed:

  1. Star 80 (1983)
  2. Blood Red (1989)
  3. The Ambulance (1990)
  4. The Lost Capone (1990)
  5. Love, Cheat, & Steal (1993)
  6. Love Is A Gun (1994)
  7. Sensation (1994)
  8. Doctor Who (1996)
  9. Most Wanted (1997)
  10. Mr. Brightside (2004)
  11. Six: The Mark Unleased (2004)
  12. Hey You (2006)
  13. In The Blink of an Eye (2009)
  14. The Expendables (2010) 
  15. Sharktopus (2010)
  16. Miss Atomic Bomb (2012)
  17. Lovelace (2013)
  18. Self-Storage (2013)
  19. Inherent Vice (2014)
  20. Rumors of War (2014)
  21. A Fatal Obsession (2015)
  22. Stalked By My Doctor (2015)
  23. Stalked By My Doctor: The Return (2016)
  24. The Wrong Roommate (2016)
  25. Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge (2018)
  26. Monster Island (2019)
  27. Seven Deadly Sins (2019)
  28. Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare (2019)
  29. The Wrong Mommy (2019)
  30. Her Deadly Groom (2020)
  31. Top Gunner (2020)
  32. Just What The Doctor Ordered (2021)
  33. Killer Advice (2021)
  34. The Poltergeist Diaries (2021)
  35. My Dinner With Eric (2022)

Catching Up With The Films of 2022: Wrong Place (dir by Mike Burns)

After his wife is killed in a car crash, former police chief Frank Richards (Bruce Willis) takes a job as a security guard for a small town convenience store.  It’s not really a demanding job.  As we see in one montage, Frank spends most of his time playing solitaire.  However, one evening, Frank steps out back to have a cigar and he just happens to catch meth dealer Virgil Brown (Massi Furlan) executing a man.  Frank promptly disarms and arrest Virgil.

Virgil’s son, Jake (Michael Sirow), is not happy about this.  Knowing that Frank is the only eyewitness who can testify against Virgil at his trail, Jake heads off to kill Frank.  However, when Jake arrives at Frank’s cabin, he discovers that it is inhabited by Frank’s daughter, Chloe (Ashley Greene), and her girlfriend, Tammy (Stacey Danger).  Jake tries to take Chloe and Tammy hostage but Chloe turns out to be a lot tougher than he assumed.  Chloe is waiting to hear whether or not she’s cancer-free and, as she explains to Jake, she has nothing to lose by risking her life and fighting him.  And while Jake is certainly dangerous and quick to fire his gun, he’s also not the most competent criminal to ever come out of the backwoods of Alabama.  If you’re guessing that this leads to several scenes of various characters chasing each other through the woods and shooting at each other, congratulations!  You’re right!

This was one of the last films that Willis made before announcing his retirement last year.  Watching the film, it’s easy to see that Willis was struggling a bit.  There’s none of the swagger that viewers typically associate with Bruce Willis and he delivers many of his lines in a flat monotone.  That said, this film is still a better showcase for Willis than American Siege or Fortress: Sniper’s Eye.  Indeed, in the early scenes with his soon-to-be-deceased wife, Willis feels a bit like the Willis of old.  Even if Bruce Willis was struggling to remember his lines, his eyes still revealed a lot of emotional depth.  In the scenes where he and his wife discuss getting older and mention how scary it is to be sick, the dialogue carries an extra resonance.  If nothing else, the role of a decent man who will do anything to protect his family seems like a more appropriate final role for Willis than the various crime bosses that he played in some of his other ’22 films.

Unfortunately, Wrong Place gets bogged down with the whole hostage subplot.  There’s only so much time that you can spend watching people yell at each other before you lose interest.  Ashley Greene, Stacey Danger, and Michael Sirow all give convincing performances but the film itself falls into a rut.  When Jake is first introduced, he seems like he could be an interesting villain.  He doesn’t really know what he’s doing but he’s determined to impress his father.  (Sadly, it’s pretty obvious that Jake’s father will never be impressed with anything Jake does, regardless of what it may be.)  Jake’s incompetence makes him even more dangerous because it also makes him impulsive and quick to anger.  Unfortunately, the film doesn’t do much with his character.  Once the action kicks in, he just become another generic backwoods villain.

I get the feeling that the director meant for Wrong Place to be more than just another action film.  The film moves at its own deliberate pace and, even after the hostage situation has concluded, the film still goes on for another ten minutes.  One gets the feeling that the director wanted to make a sensitive film about the relationship between a headstrong daughter and her old-fashioned father.  But, because this film was also a low-budget action film, he also had to toss in some backwoods meth dealers.  The film has some moments of unexpected emotional honesty, many of them curtesy of Ashley Greene.  But, in the end, it keeps getting bogged down with endless scenes of people running through the woods with guns.  The end result is an uneven film but at least Willis gets to play a hero again.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Oscar Micheaux Edition

4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

139 years ago today, Oscar Micheaux was born in Metropolis, Illinois.  After working in several different jobs and writing a few novels, Micheaux would become the first African-American to produce and direct a feature length film and, later, a sound feature length film.  He began his directorial career in 1919 and continued it throughout the sound era, often making films that were meant as a response to the films that were coming out of Hollywood.  (For example, 1920’s Within Our Gates was meant to answer and condemn the racism of The Birth of a Nation.)  At a time when blacks were usually only used for comedic relief and when it wasn’t uncommon for white actors to wear blackface on screen, Micheaux created an alternative film industry and, along the way, he gave early and rare starring roles to black actors like Paul Robeson.

Micheaux distributed the majority of his films himself and, unfortunately, the majority of them have been lost.  The ones that survive were often hampered by their low budgets but they still provide a view into African-American life in the early days of the 20th Century.  As well, Micheaux was one of the first successful “independent” filmmakers.  Working without the support of the major studios, Micheaux still did what he had to do to share his vision with audiences.

It’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Oscar Micheaux Films

Within Our Gates (1920, dir by Oscar Micheaux)

Body and Soul (1925, dir by Oscar Micheaux)

10 Minutes To Live (1932, dir by Oscar Micheaux, DP: Lester Lang)

Harlem After Midnight (1935, dir by Oscar Micheaux)