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Boss

  • USA
  • 1974
  • 87 mins
  • 35mm
  • English
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“A wacky flip on the established western niche... holds it own with style, character and badassness” - INFINI-TROPOLIS

A pair of bounty hunters — Boss, a former slave who take his freedom by force, and his loyal sidekick Amos — scour the landscape in pursuit of Ged Layton, a white fugitive with a substantial price on his head. Knowing that Layton often hides out in San Miguel, a small town in the Wild West, Boss and Amos ride in and quietly take their place among the mostly white inhabitants. Awaiting their prey, they see that San Miguel seethes with corruption, a compromised mayor, and oppressed black community and, more than anything, no law. Boss thus decides to pin the sheriff’s badge over his own heart and make Amos his deputy. They’re going to bring a little law and order to the town, and dispense a few lessons in human decency before they collect the reward for Layton.

Fred Williamson first made his name in the 1960s as an American football player, playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and even the Montreal Alouettes. His hard-charging style earned him the nickname “the Hammer”. When Hollywood came knocking, Williamson laid out his requirements quite clearly. He wouldn’t play villains, dealers or pimps; his characters would always survive the last reel; and he’d only get the girl on screen if he genuinely liked her. Williamson quickly established himself as a multitasker — acting, producing, directing and scriptwriting. An icon of American black cinema, he appeared in over 80 feature film, 20 of which he directed and seven of which he wrote. BOSS, however, was directed by an established veteran, one of the last films of Jack Arnold (CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN). The blaxpoitation-Western genre saw numerous hits in the 1970s, such as THE LEGEND OF NIGGER CHARLEY and THE SOUL OF NIGGER CHARLEY, both with Williamson and BOSS co-star D'Urville Martin in similar roles. An entertaining flick packed with humour and action, BOSS is also a reflection of the place of black Americans in the aftermath of the Civil War. Mopreover, switching out Indians for blacks carried great symbolic and subversive power. Fans of DJANGO UNCHAINED will enjoy comparing and contrasting the Arnold and Tarantino approached to the revisionist Western, and while BOSS may lack DJANGO’s budget and scale, it is no less a potent tale of a man who is the boss of his own destiny.

— Marc Lamothe

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