For all of you who have been taking to the roads this holiday weekend, I might suggest a film that might put your travails in perspective. While not a train, plane or yacht disaster picture to generate schadenfreude, you will be glad you didn’t run into at least some of what is shown here. Of course if you’re a fan of 1970s football, blaxploitation or biker pictures, you’ll be totally stoked…
The Black Six (1973) is a classic Matt Cimber production. One of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite directors, Cimber (aka Matteo Ottaviano) was a king of seventies trashy cinema, directing Jayne Mansfield in her final film (Single Room Furnished —1968) as well as Orson Welles in his (Butterfly – 1982). Black Six is part of a trio of touchstone films (along with 1975’s Lady Cocoa and The Candy Tangerine Man – said to be Samuel L. Jackson’s favorite film). Created ostensibly to capitalize on the success of Shaft (1971) and Superfly (1972), this film also has obvious elements of The Magnificent Seven (1960), Easy Rider (1969) and It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). It even opens up with could be called a twisted cabaret version of the Lucy and Charlie Brown football gag.
Also upping the ante in this case is the casting of active ‘70s NFL stars (and four future Hall of Famers) in the lead roles of the gang: Gene Washington (49ers),Mercury Morris (Dolphins), ‘Mean Joe’ Greene (Steelers), Willie Lanier (Chiefs), Lem Barney (Lions) and Carl Eller (Vikings). Lanier is rather stiff, Barney has a Buster Keaton quality, Washington shows why he became a sportscaster after his career ended (and he was just awarded the Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award by his alma mater Michigan State) and Morris shows why he is still called upon for loopy quotes whenever a team nears the ’73 Dolphins 17-0 record (not to mention his thoughts on Richard Nixon. Greene of course later became iconic as the guy that throws his smelly jersey to the kid in the Coke commercial, and Eller — well, just look how he wears his cap and compare him to Samuel L. in Jackie Brown (1997). Other notable athletes that appear were the recently retired Oakland Raider heavy Ben Davidson, who throws out quite convincing biker lingo as ‘Thor’, and former Dodger lead-off man and base stealer Maury Wills, who comes off quite weasely as a hear-no-evil coach, something the Seattle Mariners could have benefitted from watching. Throw in lots of ‘fros, righteous lambchop ‘stasches and funky jukeboxes, and you have yourself the perfect accompaniment to wind down after a long, hard ride.
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