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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, November 3, 2023

The Red, White, and Black (1970)

This western is set after the Civil War when the U.S. Army fielded all black cavalry units commonly referred to as Buffalo Soldiers. Here we follow a man named Eli who gets caught in bed with another man’s wife. To escape the gun wielding angry spouse he gets in line and joins the army. Then we watch him arrive at a fort and go thru training where we are also introduced to other soldiers as well as the seamstress Miss Julie.

Here is where things go sideways for me. There is a brief romance and then Eli marries Miss Julie. I was expecting more shootouts and cowboy stuff, but we get this instead. Okay fine… but then there is a subplot with a local Indian leader, played by the very white Robert Dix (yikes!). He is friendly and has a treaty with the army, but that ends poorly when a local merchant guns one of his braves down and is in turn killed. Even that makes little sense because they go from friendly to let’s kill everyone without every trying to either hide the crime or explain what happened. Oh, there is also a subplot where Miss Julie hops into bed with another soldier that causes some drama but goes nowhere.

I suppose I would have enjoyed this movie if it had picked one of the storylines and stuck with it. Even if that wasn’t the action that I expected at least I could have followed and maybe had some sort of resolution. Instead what we get is a mess of plot threads that all unravel and never get resolved. Eli is supposed to be our main character, at least I think so. But after spending so much time with him and the fallout from him discovering Miss Julie’s affair he is unceremoniously killed off before the big finale involving the Indians! Yeah, the last ten minutes we are minus what has been the focus of the prior hour and fifteen minutes of plot development.

The above is further muddled with the inclusion of a brief affair and quickly forgotten violence from our main character Eli. Seriously he goes from sympathetic man who we could be rooting for to an abusive and scary husband threating to kill his wife. The entire Indian subplot is also confusing as it serves no purpose other than to maybe insinuate that the African American troops and the oppressed Native Americans should be fighting the real enemy (listen to the song that keeps playing). But then all the white officers are portrayed as at least kind towards the men they command. I’m so confused by this. It basically made it impossible for me to follow or really care about what was happening on screen.

The cast is solid with the previously mentioned Robert Dix as well as the legendary Cesar Romero, Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons), Barbara Hale (Perry Mason), and Robert DoQuil (Robocop, Walking Tall II). There was a lot of talent in front of the camera as well as behind it with one of my personal favorites, John “Bud” Cardos, behind it directing the action. The fact that they are so let down with a terrible script that also has some very clunky and awkward dialogue makes for an extremely disappointing experience. Obviously, I’m not recommending The Red, White, and Black.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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