1973 // USA // Larry Cohen // February 19, 2010 // DVD - MGM (2001)
Perhaps the most valuable lesson to be learned from Black Caesar is this: Do Not Fuck With Fred Williamson. Not only can the man take a bullet in the gut and keep on coming for your traitorous ass, he will, as the above screenshot demonstrates, beat you within an inch of your life with a shoe-shine kit. I had been aware of ex-football star Williamson primarily from Italian dreck like Warrior of the Lost World and his campy performance in From Dusk Till Dawn. Little did I know that he had a significant career as a blaxploitation leading man, a career that this film kicked off. Intriguingly, many of Black Caesar's elements crop up in Scarface, and especially in Goodfellas (including that aforementioned shine-box, which a corrupt cop uses to humiliate Williamson before it is turned on him as a weapon). Do you think that De Palma or Scorsese would ever cop to cribbing slightly from the fellow who directed Q, It's Alive, and The Stuff? And by the by, that James Brown soundtrack? Pure gold.