Black Brigade (1970)

Originally entitled Carter’s Army, this made for TV movie debuted on ABC on January 27, 1970. It was written by David Kidd, who would also write The Swinging Cheerleaders, and Aaron Spelling, who would go on to dominate 1970’s TV with Mod SquadThe RookiesS.W.A.T.Starsky and HutchFamilyVega$Charlie’s AngelsFantasy IslandHart to Hart and many more.

Captain Beau Carter (Stephen Boyd, who was the main bad guy in Ben-Hur as well as appearing in The Devil Has Seven Faces/Bloody Mary) is placed in charge of a unit of African American soldiers, including comedian Richard Pryor, football player/needlepoint enthusiast/apprehender of Sirhan Sirhan Rosey Grier, Trouble Man Robert Hooks, Glynn Turman from Cooley High, Billy Dee Williams (do I need to tell you who he is?) and Moses Gunn, who is Detective Turner in Amityville II: The Possession.

These soldiers have been relegated to cleaning latrines and removed from the front lines, but now they must secure an important dam or the Allied advance will be delayed. Carter must get past his racism to lead the men to victory.

Susan Oliver — whose life may be more interesting than any movie, is also in this film. After a near-disaster on a plane the day Buddy Holly died, she got hypnotized to get around her fear of flying. She became an incredibly competitive pilot, finally the 2760-mile transcontinental race known as the “Powder Puff Derby” and becoming 1970’s Pilot of the Year. She also was one of the original 19 women admitted to the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women and left most of her estate to that organization.

Black Brigade is an intriguing film to include on a blaxploitation box set, as it does anything but glorify violence or combat. It was a real surprise to me and it’s definitely worth your time.

You can get Black Brigade on Mill Creek’s new Soul Team Six DVD collection, along with five other films.

DISCLAIMER: Mill Creek sent us this set, but we were planning on buying it anyway. It has no bearing on this review.

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