The Black Six

Look out, Honky
★
☆☆
Released: 
1973
Director: 
Matt Cimber
Starring: 
Robert Howard, Gene Washington, Joe Greene, Willie Lanier, Cindy Daly
The Setup: 
Black biker gang gets revenge on white biker gang for killing black guy’s brother.
Discussion: 

This is one of those things I got as part of a cheapo boxed set and watched a while ago, before I started this site. I thought it wasn’t so bad at the time, so I thought I’d give it a little look-see again and write it up for the site. It was considerably less successful on the second go-round.

We open with a black guy and a white woman making out in a darkened football field at night. She is scared and bummed at “having to meet like this.” They are soon interrupted by a gang of white bikers who charge onto the field and beat the black guy with a chain until he dies.

Next we join the Black Six, a group of African-American bikers recently returned from Vietnam. They ride around while we get the credits and hear the theme song. They are played by six professional football players from the time, including Mean Joe Greene. The credits names their team along with their name to hammer the concept home. They are all burnt out by Vietnam and just want to drift around and do their thing. We see them working throwing hay bales [while one of them tenderly strokes a friendly goat], then having lunch, then riding around, etc. Even while working in the hot sun, not one of them has the common courtesy to remove his shirt. Hello, we’re talking about six big ol’ pro football players here, and they can’t take off their shirts? What did I pay to see here?

Anyway, they decide to take a break a Flora’s Truck and Beer Stop [both trucks and beers stop there], where they face racism from the locals. Flora and her husband claim not to have any ham—although he is slicing a big ham hock in clear view—and not to have any beer. There is a brawl which results in the complete destruction of the Truck and Beer Stop, which causes Flora to have a fit and hit her husband hysterically.

The plot kicks in at 25 minutes [into the 90-minute movie], when lead guy Bubba discovers gets a letter that his brother was killed. He and the fellas head to his house, where they meet his rather large and quite sincere mother and angry sister. The sister is quite a sight with her coke-bottle glasses and giant spherical afro, and she berates Bubba for just riding around aimlessly while the others of his race are in trouble. She receives in return a big speech about how they were burned by Vietnam and feel like “jumping up and down” in protest is pointless, delivered right in front of a large American flag, by the way. The sister replies that she is committed to change, and “if it means jumping up and down then you watch this sister jump—just be careful who she lands on.”

Most of the rest of the movie is made up of Bubba investigating and investigating some more. He interviews Detective Octavius [isn’t that a Spider-Man villain?] and Fats the bartender and his brother’s old girlfriend, and finds that the police are useless and the rest of the populous is too scared to say anything. He also reconnects to a woman who used to be his girlfriend before he went away and is now a prostitute.

Meanwhile, the white bikers who killed the brother at the beginning realize that Bubba is on their trail and they recruit this other, large group of bikers to help their cause. The main biker says “I’m tired of spooks with white chicks strolling up and down the avenues, flaunting their black asses,” and adds that “the white man is tired of running.” Have I mentioned that this guy has a hot stache? WHY are redneck racists always so hot? It places one in a moral quandary. And you know… if the black six isn’t going to so much as take off their shirts, you know, how are we to know where to place our loyalties?

I’m sure you have absolutely no idea where this is going. It all culminates in a giant rumble at the very football field where the brother was killed at the beginning, where the black six take on a bunch of bikers—and win! The film ends with the message: "Look out honky, hassle a brother and the black six will return."

The first time I watched it I found it a genial thing that was fairly amusing, and I liked how it took its time with setting everything up in those 25 aimless opening minutes. Maybe it’s just that I’ve seen it before, or that I’ve watched much better blaxploitation between now and then, but I was a little nonplussed this time. It’s fine, it’s just a little low-key and dull and predictable, with no real standout feature.

The director of this also directed super blaxploitation crap Lady Cocoa [another movie I got in one of these cheap boxed sets, watched once, and don’t want to watch again], weird horror-ish movie The Witch That Came from the Sea, and Pia Zadora classic bad movie Butterfly [SO on my list now]. Anyway, if the black six do return, I hope they have the courtesy to do it without their shirts.

Should you watch it: 

Maybe if you are trapped in a room with no doors and no windows and all you have is a TV and this DVD.