HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Eve of Destruction
Mad Death, The
Lost in Vagueness
Sleeping Beauty
Allure
In Search of Dracula
Fantastic Woman, A
Emmanuelle II
Far from Vietnam
Inherit the Wind
Post, The
King Frat
Commuter, The
Mister Buddwing
Kiki's Delivery Service
Z-O-M-B-I-E-S
Mansfield 66/67
Old Enough
Bleeding Steel
Double Hour, The
My Generation
Geostorm
Pendulum
Certain Magical Index: The Movie - The Miracle of Endymion, A
That Good Night
Psychopath, The
My Beloved Bodyguard
.44 Specialist, The
Square, The
Boys, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
Force the Issue: Star Wars' Tricky Middle Prequels and Sequels
Rediscovered: The Avengers - Tunnel of Fear on DVD
Sword Play: An Actor's Revenge vs Your Average Zatoichi Movie
Super Sleuths: The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes on DVD
Stop That, It's Silly: The Ends of Monty Python
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
   
 
  Wattstax Be SomebodyBuy this film here.
Year: 1973
Director: Mel Stuart
Stars: Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Luther Ingram, Johnnie Taylor, The Emotions, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Albert King, Richard Pryor, The Bar-Kays, Eddie Floyd, Kim Weston, Rance Allen, Jesse Jackson, Melvin Van Peebles, Ted Lange, Raymond Allen
Genre: Documentary, Music
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Here is Richard Pryor to introduce footage of a concert which meant a lot to him and the people of the Watts district of Los Angeles, which would have been most famous for the tower sculptures built there if it had not been for the devastating riots which smashed up the place in 1965 and made headlines across the world, which may have damaged the region but also raised the consciousness of many African Americans and woke up a lot of people to the troubles they were facing in the poorest areas. To commemorate the riots, the Stax record label organised a concert, and that is what this is about...

Well, it is and it isn't for director Mel Stuart, now best known for helming the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory rather than his extensive work in documentaries, tried to capture the spirit and opinions of the populace by lacing the concert with clips of residents discussing various aspects of black culture. For some reason Wattstax became known as "The Black Woodstock", as if Woodstock was an exclusively white affair - a certain Mr Jimi Hendrix would like a word with you about that when you meet him in the afterlife - but for all the anti-Vietnam War mood to that concert of a couple of years before, this was a lot more politically motivated.

As seen in those interviews, where the locals spoke plainly about their views on life, ranging from the riots to the blues to black men going out with white women. Pryor also showed up in segments filmed in a local bar to riff on various subjects familiar from his standup routines, but invaluable for fans of the comedian as an early example captured for posterity of what he was capable of; in addition, Love Boat fans would be intrigued by a very outspoken Ted Lange expounding and turning the air blue in the process, as many of those interviewed did. Some feel we could have down without these parts eating into the music time, but they did offer a snapshot of how the average Watts citizen was thinking at the time.

As for that music, somewhat frustratingly we didn't get to see every act perform whole songs, just some of them, with others relegated to short clips, but when the tunes were given their chance to breathe, they became the best reason to watch. Not every act was able to appear on the night due to overrunning, so some were filmed separately a little while later - the Emotions belt out gospel in a church, for example, but perhaps the most notorious example of that was Isaac Hayes, built up as the main draw and originally performing his Theme from Shaft in front of the adoring crowd. That was until MGM's lawyers got involved (this was a Columbia release) and he had to replace that with a different recording some time later, not the filmmakers' intention at all.

Fortunately, by the time this was rereleased for its thirtieth anniversary, the rights had been sorted out and it ends the way it was supposed to, the film played much better, although the highlight perhaps remained Rufus Thomas and his antics. He comes on in a pink cape, opens it to reveal equally shocking pink-hued suit, including shorts, ram's head medallion, and white knee-length boots, and launches into his song which fires up the audience so much that they pile over the fences of the L.A. Colisseum and start getting on down on the field. Rufus is then told he has to order them off, which he does in highly entertaining fashion, especially when one umbrella-weilding spectator refuses to leave and he gets the full brunt of his humorous putdowns. On a more serious note, the Reverend Jesse Jackson inspires the crowd with his speeches, as do the songs of the likes of The Staples Singers and The Bar-Kays, the latter evidently determined to steal Hayes' thunder. If nothing else, Wattstax set a time and place with vivid, rousing clarity.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 707 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Enoch Sneed
  Mark Scampion
   

 

Last Updated: