Sidney Poitier’s directorial debut is a cracking buddy movie that made a key contribution to challenging representations of the American West in the 1970s.
Set in the era of Reconstruction that followed the American Civil War, Poitier himself plays Buck, a former soldier leading a wagon train of free African Americans from Louisiana to Kansas.
Negotiating with local indigenous peoples to secure safe passage, when Buck and his party are set upon by raiders working for Louisiana slaveowners, he strikes up an odd couple friendship with a huckster preacher (Harry Belafonte in a delightfully hammy, scene stealing performance).
Their mission to lead their people to safety will see them involved in shootouts, high speed chases, bank robberies and much else besides, in this gloriously fun yet quietly lens-shifting portrait of the Wild West.
Poitier proved himself a great match for the western in his directorial debut, delivering action, pathos, and a collection of great performances, which also includes memorable turns from Ruby Dee and arch-villain Cameron Mitchell.
Presented in a brand new 4K restoration, it is a film awaiting rediscovery.