BLACK RODEO – bucking broncos with the Queen of Soul

Last night we sat down around the boob tube to watch the recently-released documentary BLACK RODEO. (What can we now call our flat screens to disparage them and our mildly comatose activity staring at them? The Bean Screen? It just doesn’t have the same ring.) BLACK RODEO is a 1972 doc on an all-black rodeo in NYC – it delves into the history of black involvement in building the ranch-laden West, and boasts some amazing footage of cowboys gone crazy on bulls gone wild, all to an amazing soundtrack of James Brown and Aretha Franklin. It’s not your typical red neck “That is one rank bull!” commentary … it’s bucking broncos with the Queen of Soul! Now that’s awesome.

Check out the poster image above. This doc is simply exquisitely shot. I cannot imagine how the 35mm cameras were running around with these horses and bulls – but there is a lush, late afternoon magic hour grain going on that is just gorgeous. The extended interview with Woody Strode (the pro football player turned actor who became part of John Ford’s ‘family’ of actors) is shot in one pool of stark light. Scores of fans are in Triboro stadium, and almost all of them are Af-Am. They are interviewed by the director Jeff Kanew, who went on to make REVENGE OF THE NERDS, and most express gratitude for being at a ‘black event’ that is not understood as stereotypically ‘black.’ It gets a little preachy at points with uplifting the community, etc, but to see kids get excited about a sport they’ve never seen is, well, fun. Check it out via Scorpion Releasing.

Trailer below: