NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: The Final Comedown (1972)

Oscar Williams wrote and directed Death DrugHot Potato and Black Belt Jones — and wrote Truck Turner, which is absolutely incredible — as well as this film, which explores white on black racism and a shootout between a radical black nationalist group — look, it’s the Black Panthers but even Roger Corman wasn’t going to go that far — and the cops. Meanwhile, we learn how the radicalized Johnny (Billy Dee Williams) got that way, as well as how things went off the rails with his white girlfriend Renee (Celia Kaye, who played “woman in tub” in Rattlers and like that movie’s tagline says, “What a horrible way to die!”; she later married John Milius and is in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) after he meets her racist dad (R.G. Armstrong, who beyond getting to be the Sandman in Metallica’s video for “Enter Sandman,” R.G. also played Pruneface in Dick Tracy, Uncle Lewis on Friday the 13th: The Series, man I could just fill your eyeballs with roles that R.G. played). There’s so much more that takes him into fighting cops, because the hood’s so bad that rats are stealing the dolls of baby girls and Johnny’s mom being forced to work as a maid for white people.

Sooner than later, white cops are having their guts sprayed all over brick walls and Johnny’s not doing to well himself, passing out due to his own wounds. It also has D’Urville Martin, who would go on to direct Dolemite, and a score by Motown arranger/producer Wade Marcus and guitarist Grant Gree. There’s also a post-lovemaking scene where Johnny tells the hippy Renne, “By the time you hit thirty, you’re gonna drop back in, ‘cause you didn’t do nothin but talk that brotherhood, love and peace. You didn’t change nothing.”

Once Billy Dee Williams became a big name in Lady Sings the Blues — and not yet before he’d become Lando — Corman decided to re-release this with some more exciting footage, more D’Urville Martin and more direction from Frank Arthur Wilsonunder the name Blast! Frank Arthur Wilson is really Alan Arkush.

Sure, this is heavy handed, but when you realize that all of the problems that existed in 1972 still exist in 2023, well, maybe it needs to be that way.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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