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  Black Gunn Brown's In Town
Year: 1972
Director: Robert Hartford-Davis
Stars: Jim Brown, Martin Landau, Brenda Sykes, Luciana Paluzzi, Vida Blue, Stephen McNally, Keefe Brasselle, Timothy Brown, William Campbell, Bernie Casey, Gary Conway, Chuck Daniel, Tommy Davis, Rick Ferrell, Bruce Glover, Toni Holt, Herbert Jefferson Jr
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: There has been a robbery and subsequent shootout at this Mafia-run business: as the hoods were counting wads of cash in a back room, they did not realise the janitor they took for granted was actually an African-American militant in disguise who fooled them into opening the door and allowing a group of his fellow militants in, whereupon they stole the money, but also a clutch of books they found in the safe. It is those books which will prove problematic for they contain proof of the Mob buying the services of various authority figures, and it is imperative they get them back, but the leader of the militants, Scotty Gunn (Herbert Jefferson Jr) takes pains to hide them...

After all, you never know who you could blackmail with information like that, not to mention it being the proof which could send the Black Action Group, or B.A.G. for short, into a very influential place publicly. That's right, the B.A.G., not the Black Panthers which you might have thought would be a more obvious point of identification for the potential audience in 1972, but after all there were real people doing real things in the Panthers, whereas any similarity between anyone real in Black Gunn was purely coincidental, hence the made up pressure group. Yet the title character was not Scotty, no indeed, he was Scotty's brother who simply went by the surname Gunn, without a first name.

Played by possibly the greatest American sportsman of all time Jim Brown, a legendary football player whose supporting roles in sixties movies had him bitten by the acting bug and by this stage he was starring in his own vehicles, almost exclusively in the blaxploitation field as American studios found a lucrative market to be tapped among those who wished to watch black actors playing it cool and proving that they were easily the equal of whitey. Except, of course, most of the talent behind these movies was white, and Black Gunn was pretty much indicative of this, though it did have an unusual pedigree in that it was a British entry into the genre, not that you'd know it from the final result.

The man behind this was Englishman Robert Hartford-Davis, who had a keen eye for exploitation movies and what would turn a profit, whether that be sex, violence or even pop music. He was considering Hollywood as the next big opportunity for his brand of cheap and cheerful movies, and Black Gunn was something he saw as part of a bandwagon he could easily jump on, therefore there may have been almost exclusively American talent in front of the camera, but this was a production with British backing. It would be nice to say that offered a fresh spin on the format, but in effect Hartford-Davis was sticking to every cliché and convention he could find, though at least you could say he had done his research. Another thing people say about this is that in its favour, there was a certain film following about fifteen years later that it influenced.

That being the cult spoof I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, which took Black Gunn as a template of sorts, apt perhaps when its director was working to a template laid down by those who had a better feel of the necessary elements for successful blaxploitation. So Brown's character owned his own nightclub, he got the most glamorous girl around as his partner in romance (Brenda Sykes, best known as Mrs Gil Scott-Heron), he could handle himself in a fight as Bruce Glover's borderline insane Mob henchman discovers to his cost, he was fair-minded when it came to society's inequalities which translated to kicking white ass when necessary, and so on. His main adversary after Scotty meets a sticky end was that famous Italian-American, erm, Martin Landau who played a used car dealer who happens to be high up in the West Coast Mafia, about as seventies a villain as it was possible to get for a film set in the U.S.A., though he was hardly in the movie as Brown gets mixed up with Bernie Casey's militant leader and actual Italian Luciana Paluzzi. It was OK, action stuffed, but undistinguished. Music by Tony Osborne.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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