NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: A Hero Ain’t Nothing but a Sandwich (1977)

The last theatrical film of Ralph Nelson (CharlyLillies of the Field), the screenplay for this film came from the author of the book that it’s based on, Alice Childress. It’s all about teenager Benjie (Larry B. Scott), who goes from marijuana to heroin and nearly dropping not just out of school, but life itself. Can his family — mother Sweets (Cicely Tyson), grandmother Mrs. Bell (Helen Martin) and replacement father figure Butler (Paul Winfield) — save him?

This is a movie that tries so much, presenting a story about drug use, a story about black men losing their fathers, about how black men and the education system don’t mix well, about a young black couple trying to make things work and build a family, all within one story that really wants to do well but keeps trying, as I said, too much in too little time.

That said, the cast is beyond likable and if this were a series, this could have adjusted and been all of those things. It’s preachy, sure, but it has the right message from a heart that is in the proper place.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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