Film Review – BLACK GUNN (1972)

BLACK GUNN (1972, USA/UK) **½
Action, Crime, Thriller
dist. Columbia Pictures (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); pr co. Champion Production Company; d. Robert Hartford-Davis; w. Franklin Coen (based on an original screenplay by Robert Shearer and an original story by Robert Hartford-Davis); pr. John Heyman, Norman Priggen; ph. Richard H. Kline (Eastmancolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1); m. Tony Osborne; ed. Pat Somerset; ad. Jack De Shields; rel. 20 December 1972 (USA); BBFC cert: 18; r/t. 96m.
cast: Jim Brown (Gunn), Martin Landau (Capelli), Brenda Sykes (Judith), Luciana Paluzzi (Toni), Vida Blue (Sam Green), Stephen McNally (Laurento), Keefe Brasselle (Winman), Timothy Brown (Larry), William Campbell (Rico), Bernie Casey (Seth), Gary Conway (Adams), Chuck Daniel (Mel), Tommy Davis (Webb), Rick Ferrell (Jimpy), Bruce Glover (Ray Kriley), Toni Holt Kramer (Betty), Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Scott Gunn), Jay Montgomery (Junkie), Mark Tapscott (Cassidy), Gene Washington (Elmo).
One of the many black action thrillers that followed on the coattails of SHAFT (1971) but lacked the class of that production. It is a fast-paced, but unevenly handled, action vehicle for Brown in which a black militant group robs a Mafia bookie joint and steals incriminating ledgers which, in turn, prompts retaliation from the mob. When the group’s leader, who happens to be nightclub owner Brown’s brother, is killed Brown hunts down the perpetrators. Brown is a physically effective lead but otherwise, his performance lacks charisma. Sykes brings some charm to her role as Brown’s loyal girlfriend. Landau and Paluzzi (as key mob members) are underused in a strong supporting cast. Glover, however, enjoys himself as the mob’s chief henchman. The plot is overly familiar, and the earthy dialogue is heavy on themes of the struggles of black Americans. British director Hartford-Davis’ handling of the material is occasionally unfocused with jarring camerawork hampering some otherwise bloody and lively action sequences.

TV Review – SPACE 1999: BREAKAWAY (1975)

Image result for space 1999 breakawaySpace 1999: Breakaway (TV) (1975; UK; Colour; 50m) ***  Exec pr. Gerry Anderson; pr. Sylvia Anderson; d. Lee H. Katzin; w. George Bellak; ph. Frank Watts; m. Barry Gray. Cast: Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Barry Morse, Roy Dotrice, Prentis Hancock, Zienia Merton, Anton Phillips, Nick Tate, Philip Madoc, Lon Satton Lon Satton, Eric Carte Eric Carte. Commander John Koenig, the new commander of Moonbase Alpha, leads the investigation of a mysterious disease at the station and uncovers evidence of a far greater looming disaster. First episode of the TV series sets up the premise by telling the tale of the events that lead up to the Moon being blasted out of the Earth’s orbit and out into deep space. Landau has the right amount of gravitas as the base commander and is well supported by Morse as his scientific sidekick. Bain, however, gives a one-note performance as the medical doctor and lacks charisma. Her chemistry with real-life husband Landau would be allowed to develop as the series progressed. Great special effects and model work for the day as Gerry Anderson adds his usual high production values. Anderson re-edited Katzin’s initial cut, which reportedly ran close to 2-hours in length, and shot new scenes once series production was underway. [PG]