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Buck And The Preacher Criterion Blu-ray Review

‘Buck And The Preacher’ is an underrated western. 

‘Buck And The Preacher’ is a 1972 western that is set after the Civil War. The Ernest Kinoy scripted story revolves around the titular character Buck who is a former soldier turned wagon train leader that guides free African Americans to a new destination. Unfortunately, this job comes with great peril. Not only are a group of bounty hunters led by Deshay terrorizing and murdering members of the wagon train but they are attempting to bring people back to the plantations. On top of that, they have their sight set on Buck the most. Buck’s troubles only grow from there on out. He bumps into a scoundrel who pretends to be a Preacher that is mighty interested in the reward money for Buck AND Buck has to ensure the safe passage of the wagon train through Indian territory and must make a deal with them in order to do so. Buck is also trying to ensure the safety of his lover Ruth. How will it all play out? That would be telling.

Directed by and starring the late legend Sidney Poitier (who plays Buck), ‘Buck And The Preacher’ is an overlooked western that provides an impactful story about black history, morality, and freedom as well as honest depictions of both Indians and Black people in the old west. It’s no secret that western cinema had predominantly been about white characters so it’s refreshing to see that this movie went against the grain in the 70’s by focusing on black characters. One can argue the central story is pretty basic and the material is rather surface level, but there’s no denying that this is an important tale that needed to be told. The fact that it still resonates 50 years later AND stands as one of the best Black westerns (if not the best) just shows you how on point this movie is.

Sidney Poitier gives a strong and heartfelt performance as Buck, but it’s Harry Belafonte as Preacher who steals the movie. This is a real departure for the actor who was known for his dashing good looks and singing. In this, he plays an often shady character with not so good looks (and bad teeth). You’re not quite sure what his character will do initially or if he will stab Buck in the back. The character dynamic between the 2 drives is a highlight to be sure. Outside of the 2 main roles, Ruby Dee (Ruth) and Cameron Mitchell (as the vile Deshay) turn in memorable performances as well. 

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital restoration offers up a gorgeous new transfer. The image often looks brand spanking new. Fans will no doubt be pleased.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? From the unique score by Benny Carter to the shootouts, this is a solid sounding Mono track. 

Extras:
* A booklet featuring credits and an essay by Aisha Harris.
* A newly recorded interview with Harry Belafonte’s daughter Gina Belafonte.
* ‘Expanding The Western’- A new interview with film scholar Mia Mask who talks about Black westerns and the production history of ‘Buck And The Preacher.’
* A Behind The Scenes segment
* 2 TV appearances from Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte together on ‘Soul!’ and ‘The Dick Cavett Show.’ Expect some really thoughtful and intelligent discussions about ‘Buck.’

August 21, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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