Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese > 21:30


Sidney Poitier


Friday 01/07/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Poitier’s directorial debut in Buck and the Preacher remains one of his strongest efforts. At first, Poitier’s title role as Buck was the extent of his responsibility, but when “differences” surfaced with the initial white director, Poitier listened to the suggestion of his friend and co-star, Harry Belafonte, and assumed the directing duties. Set in the post-Civil War western frontier, the film follows Buck, a former soldier, as he guides black homesteaders into the open and free lands of the West. But a band of white riders […] consistently burn out the Black settlers’ communities to force them to return to work on the white-owned lands. While escaping the white riders, Buck negotiates safe passage through Indian lands for his homesteaders and comes across the Preacher (Belafonte). Though antagonistic at first, the two men, along with Buck’s woman Ruth (Ruby Dee), launch an offensive against the white riders who stole money from the Black settlers. […] The film presents a slice of Black cultural history, integrating that history into the recognizable western genre with all of the expected conventions; gunfights, chases, a crude frontier town, an Indian village, and sweeping frontier vistas. Poitier, as director, makes certain to pay homage to the rugged beauty of the terrain, providing long shots and high-angle shots to highlight, in John Ford fashion, the natural wonder of rocky hillsides, desertscapes, and flowing plains overlapping one another. But the film sparkles when Poitier explores those places where cultural and political lines cross. […] Despite the film’s adherence to the western genre and its noble cultural objectives, Buck and the Preacher struggled to find an audience. […] Perhaps, Black cowboys and settlers were still too far removed from the traditional images of African Americans, and the sense of triumph suggested by the film’s final freeze-frame – of Buck, the Preacher, and Ruth riding into the sunset – was too foreign a concept for audiences.

Melvin Donaldson, Black Directors in Hollywood, University of Texas Press, Austin 2003


Harry and I wanted Black people to see the film and be proud of themselves, be proud of their history. However dishonest, unpleasant, and inhuman had been the depiction of that history by those white men who had written most of the history books that tell us about ourselves, we wanted this film to say: Hey, look, there were those of us, and not just a few, who were people of great courage, of great stamina, of great personality, of great conviction. […] The story was of a group of Black people in the late 1800s who left Louisiana in pursuit of a promised land far to the west, where no man would be their master. The forces that drove them, the commitments that enabled them to endure the hardships on their way and to persevere even in the face of death – this was the substance of the film.

Sidney Poitier, This Life, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1980

Cast and Credits

Sog.: Ernest Kinoy, Drake Walker. Scen.: Ernest Kinoy. F.: Alex Phillips, Jr. M.: Pembroke J. Herring. Scgf.: Sydney Z. Litwack. Mus.: Benny Carter. Int.: Sidney Poitier (Buck), Harry Belafonte (il predicatore), Ruby Dee (Ruth), Cameron Mitchell (Deshay), Denny Miller (Floyd), Nita Talbot (Madame Esther), John Kelly (lo sceriffo), James McEachin (Kingston). Prod.: Joel Glickman per E & R Productions, Belafonte Enterprises. DCP. D.: 103’. Col.