Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So I was talking to a friend of mine about movies and he asked me if I’d ever seen this film ‘Boss Nigger’. At first I thought he had misspoke somehow but he repeated himself and assured me that the title of this 1975 Blaxploitation era film was indeed ‘Boss Nigger’, complete with a ‘Boss Nigger’ theme song. Considering myself a bit of a connoisseur of the Blaxploitation era of films I was somewhat upset with myself that I allowed a film with a title as insultingly exploitative as this one slip past me, and if one is interested a quick search will yield numerous instances of the ‘Boss Nigger’ theme song. Well my mission for the next couple of days was crystal clear as I set forth in tracking down a copy of the Fred ‘Hammer’ Williamson produced, written and star vehicle which he boldly titled ‘Boss Nigger’. It was a challenge but by putting my nose to the grindstone I was able to unearth a DVD copy of this film, through some outfit called Blax film, and though it was arguably the worst DVD transfer I’ve ever seen my entire life, I present to you in all of its grainy blurry glory… ‘Boss Nigger!’

Our 1870’s era western starts with some hooligans counting their loot after robbing something or another and then they subsequently get mowed down by a couple of dudes filmed from the neck down. Judging by their extremely nice suede boots we know these cats are players. As the camera pulls up we see these gentlemen are African American which I doubt quickened anybody’s pulse at the theater in 1975 since the film IS called ‘Boss Nigger’ and it only stood to reason that we we’re going to see The Boss in the big reveal. The Boss of course would be former Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Fred Williamson, with his trusty sidekick Amos (the late D’Urville Martin) by his side who are a pair of bounty hunters who have decided after being hunted by white folks for so long, it’s time for them to do some huntin’. On the person of one of these dead bandits is a notice appointing him sheriff of some small

town and somehow Boss has decided to become sheriff instead in order to catch the main criminal that these two are looking for. Along the way to this town Boss and Amos kill up some more white people in service to the poor Clara Mae (Carmen Hayworth) who was in a little bit of trouble at the time, and off they go.

Well the townsfolk ain’t too happy to see these ‘Black Devil’s’ ride into town, particularly The Mayor (R.G. Armstrong), but Boss is a fairly aggressive dude and proclaims himself sheriff and has made saying the word ‘nigga’ a punishable crime. The only person who seems to be happy that Boss is in town in the lovely school teacher Miss Pruitt (Barbara Leigh – I love you Google images). In the process of forcing racial tolerance in this little town The Boss has killed a few unsavory bandits who belong to big time outlaw Jed Clayton (William Smith - legend!) Jed is none too happy about these colored boys causing all this ruckus and messing up his outlaw activities so he does what outlaws tend to do in situations like these and shoots up the town, kill poor little Mexican kids and kidnap the helpless Clara Mae. Now either something was wrong with my copy of this movie or Mr. Williamson forgot to film a scene but one second he was telling Amos he was going to rescue Clara Mae while the beautiful Miss Pruitt was begging him not to go, then the next scene he was tied up and bloodied getting shot in the palm crucifixion style by the evil Jed Clayton. Anyway, eventually the boss gets free, there are more shootouts and of course the eventual showdown between The Boss and the scurrilous Jed Clayton! My money’s on The Boss… Boss Nigger!

Boss Nigger… yeah… apparently you could get away with just about anything in the 1970’s. I should mention that the copy of the film I watched was just called ‘Boss’ as the titles scrawled across and the word nigga was excised from the theme song as well, which is a bit peculiar because they must have said that word about 600 times during this movie. I don’t think there was a sentence where it wasn’t used. As far as the movie itself goes, it’s probably one of the weaker Blaxploitation flicks as the narrative, as it were, made even less sense than even the craziest Blaxploitation movie. The plot in ‘Friday Foster’ was ‘The Iliad’ compared to this, but it still managed to be somewhat entertaining. Fred Williamson’s script contained lots and lots of gunfights, lots of putting ‘whitey’ in his place, and he had the wisdom of forethought to cast William Smith as the heavy, who I’ve been a fan of since I was a little boy , and of course Williamson is his usual charismatic self too. Barbara Leigh, though more than old enough to be mom today, was certainly a sizzler back then and has put me on a new mission to track down a copy ‘Student Nurses’ from 1970 to see her go full frontal. Splendid!

Now they do say the word ‘nigger’ a lot in the movie. More so than probably any movie ever and that would include any low rent ‘hood’ movie you can think of. Actor R.G. Armstrong, who’s still acting today at 91, said the word so well and so freely that I don’t think I’d be insulted too much if he called me one. I knew with 100% certainty that at sometime in this flick actress Carmen Hayworth would be called a ‘Nigga Bitch’, and I was not let down. But other than the mammoth use of the N-word ‘Boss Nigger’ is a pretty tame flick with almost no nudity, other than an obscured shot of Ms. Hayworth’s blurry backside and there is also no blood amidst all the killing.

So if you like good movies, then you may want to stay pretty far away from ‘Boss Nigger’, but if you’re like me and consider yourself a Blaxploitation Historian, then you must watch this film just for the sheer nerve of it all. Boss Nigger… you gotta be kidding me.

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