Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1970s Collection: Brother John (1971)

If racist white audiences were upset when Sidney Poitier retaliated and slapped back the plantation owner in In the Heat of the Night, they had to have had a meltdown when this time, a cop challenges him and he proceeds to complete emasculate the man without breaking a sweat.

Seriously, I was not prepared for this movie, a film in which Poitier plays a man of mystery who just may be the literal angel of death returning every time a family member dies in his small southern hometown when he isn’t showing up for moments of death and destruction all over the world.

This movie wasn’t well-considered when it came out and you know, I completely believe those critics were fools. Author Scott Woods wrote an essay, “Brother John: Reclaiming the Blackest Movie Ever,” in which he said, “In 1971 black people were fresh off several assassinations of people who stood firm in their interests and were starting to resign themselves to the reality that desegregation without enforceability was still segregation. Brother John did not beat what audiences it was able to muster over the head with its wisdom, but it was too much for people to transpose themselves into. Poitier perhaps did his job too well. Poitier wanted to do Brother John but America needed him to do Brother John . And then no one went to see it. Brother John has it all, and does all things well: civil rights, racism, classism, toxic masculinity, black love, house parties, homecooked funeral rites. You haven’t celebrated Black History Month properly until you’ve seen this film. Brother John is a perfect black film, both for its time and now, generating even more resonance as we walk every day in a world aflame with hate and neglect.”

It was written by Ernest Kinoy, who was a POW in World War II in the slave labor camp at Berga before making it back to America and becoming a writer for the radio shows Dimension X and X Minus One, eventually making his way to movies and TV, with Roots and the TV series The Defenders being his best-known scripts. Brother John was directed by James Goldstone, who was the director for episodes of Star Trek and The Outer Limits before working on movies like They Only Kill Their Masters, Rollercoaster and Jigsaw.

This movie is worth the entire price of this set.

Through the Decades: 1970s Collection is new from Mill Creek. It also has A Walk In the Spring Rain, DollarsFun With Dick and JaneThe Owl and PussycatFor Pete’s Sake, The Anderson TapesThe HorsemenThe Stone KillerGumshoe and The Last Detail. You can learn more on their site and order it from Deep Discount.

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