Saturday, October 6, 2012

#782. Bucktown (1975)

Directed By: Arthur Marks

Starring: Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Thalmus Rasulala

Tag line: "WHATEVER YOU WANT THEY'VE GOT... And Bucktown is where you'll find it!"

As I mentioned in my write-up of Black Caesar, that film owed much of its success to the star power of Fred Williamson. Well, in 1975’s Bucktown, this power is multiplied by two, with Pam Grier joining Williamson for what proves to be an intense, action-packed motion picture. 

Duke Johnson (Fred Williamson) is in town to bury his brother, a night-club owner who was recently gunned down. When he learns his brother’s assets have been frozen for 60 days, Duke decides to stay around for a while, and at the prodding of locals like the beautiful Aretha (Pam Grier), he re-opens his brother’s club. But it isn't long before Duke realizes the price of doing business in Bucktown. Once the club is back up and running, the local police pay Duke a visit, demanding he make payments for their 'protection'. Not willing to take this sitting down, he puts a call in to his old pal, Roy (Thalmus Rasulala).  With the help of Roy and his gang, Duke ensures that the crooked cops of Bucktown will never bother anyone again. But the town's problems don't end there, because with the police gone, Roy and his men set themselves up as the new law in town, their power going straight to their heads. His back against the wall, Duke must now face off against his old friend to rid Bucktown, once and for all, of the corruption and violence that has plagued it for year. 

Bucktown was the first movie to pair Williamson and Grier, and, to say the least, it was a winning combination. Williamson’s Duke can hold his own with the best of them, working with his friend, Roy, to bring a little big-city "justice" to the streets of Bucktown. Throughout the movie, Pam Grier’s Aretha acts as Duke’s conscience, working hard to keep him on the straight and narrow. This dream pairing aside, however, I believe the best performance in Bucktown is delivered by Thalmus Rasulala as Roy, the close friend who becomes a bitter enemy. Roy is a hard case, a guy who believes there's a future in draining the good citizens of Bucktown dry, and whose friendship with Duke is, at first, the only thing keeping him in line. Once their relationship heads south, Roy shows he can be as ruthless as any redneck. 

There are a number of great action scenes in Bucktown, with the best saved for last: a down-and-dirty fistfight that goes on for five solid minutes, bringing the story to an exciting conclusion. In fact, what makes Bucktown such a strong movie is that it continues to build tension right up to this final scene, never once backing off the rapid pace it sets early on.

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