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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Comedy > Blaxploitation > Boss (1975/aka Boss N[-word]/VCI Entertainment DVD)

Boss (1975/aka Boss N[-word]/VCI Entertainment DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C     Film: C+



Fred Williamson was not only one of the biggest stars of the Blaxploitation trend; he was actually one of his most important producers and independent forces.  After the major studios misunderstood his appeal and passed on him, he went into business for himself and pushed the envelope of the cycle like few others.  In the past, few Westerns were able to deal with the genocide of Native Americans, let alone African Americans, but a few had begun to take up the subject from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Whitey (1969) to Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974).  Williamson hired no less than B-movie veteran Jack Arnold (Tarantula, The Incredible Shrinking Man) to helm Boss (1975/aka Boss N[-word]) and it is finally out on DVD from VCI.


Williamson is the title character, especially after he goes from bounty hunter to sheriff who creates some new laws that take the town by shock as much as by storm.  The film is not bad and by being a rarity in the Western genre, not bad all around, handled well by Arnold and with a good cast that includes D’Urville Martin, William Smith in another villain role, R.G, Armstrong, Don “Red” Barry, Barbara Leigh and Carmen Zapata.  The cast is very good, made by fans of the genre and this was the first time Williamson wrote a screenplay.  If it were not for N-word being used more times than a recent South Park episode, this could have been one of Williamson’s best.


Unfortunately, it is played too often for laughs and despite some violence, never has the edge it could have had, though it is far superior to the likes of Posse.  Obviously, telling a regular story is not the goal of Blaxploitation films, but by pressing the racism button, some age more baldy than others ands this one has at least some wear going for it.  It is worth a look, especially since The Western is pretty dead and has to be reinvented every time a new one is made, but Boss still has its amusing moments and becomes odder still to watch with the election of Barack Obama.



The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image has been credited as being shot in Panavision as it is on the back of the case, but it was actually shot in Todd-AO 35 and the compositions have their moments thanks to Director of Photography Robert Caramico, whose feature work includes Orgy Of The Dead, Black Klansman, Blackenstein, Toby Hooper’s Eaten Alive and KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park (a telefilm in the U.S. that was a scope theatrical release elsewhere).  He has his moments, though this print has fading and detail issues to the point that some may be tempted to think it was Techniscope.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also rough, though you have to hear the tile song to believe it.  Extras include the original theatrical trailer, Jack Arnold tribute, Williamson interview and A Boss Memory featurette with Prof. Myrl Schreibman.  All in all, you have to see it all once to believe it.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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