Phony or For Real? “Boss Nigger” Movie Trailer

OK, is this Phony or For Real?

It’s for real, folks. Boss Nigger is a 1975 blaxploitation movie that stars former football player Fred Williamson, who also wrote and co-produced the film.

Boss Nigger is the last of a trilogy of films featuring the character “Nigger Charley,” a runaway slave played by Williamson. Character actor D’urville Martin also appeared in all three films as Amos, a fellow ex-slave and comic sidekick. After killing a brutal slave master on his plantation, Charley heads to the Old West to live as a free man.

The first film of the trilogy, The Legend of Nigger Charley, was released in 1972, at the start of the blaxploitation craze. According to Wikipedia, Legend was one of Paramount Studio’s highest-grossing movies of 1972. The second movie in the series was The Soul of Nigger Charley.

NCharley2
Movie poster for The Legend of Nigger Charley

In Boss Nigger, Charley and Amos are bounty hunters who come upon a small town in need of a sheriff. The town is also having a problem with a band of outlaws led by Jed Clayton, a villain who’s wronged Charley in the past. After a number of events, including the death of a young black woman at the hands of white murderers, there’s a showdown that features the death of the bad guy in slow-motion glory.

The dialogue in the trailer seems silly, and that was partly intentional. The Nigger movies were a parody of classic and not-so-classic Westerns, but also, they were typical 1970s blaxploitation fare, rife with comical put-downs of stereotypical white characters.

The word “nigger” is used freely, for both its shock value and just as important, its mock value. In this context, the word is used to make fun of both white folk’s use of the word, but black folks’ use of the word too.

But when looked at through the prism of today’s values, the use of what is now called the N word is either absurdly funny or outrageously offensive, depending on your mindset. It was movies like these that led to a backlash against the N word-it would be politically impossible to make this kind of movie today. (There are actually videos on the Internet featuring Obama that use the Boss Nigger theme song, and I thought, for one-tenth of a second, about putting it on this blog entry. But the idea was just too radioactive for me.)

Boss Nigger was released in some areas under the title The Boss or The Black Bounty Killer. In 2008, the movie was released in DVD under the titled Boss.

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Which Black Director is Most Boffo at the Box Office: Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, John Singleton, or Keenan Ivory Wayans?

When a movie makes a lot of money in its theatrical release, they say it’s “boffo at the box office.”

The four most prominent black directors of the past 10-15 years are Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, John Singleton, and Keenan Ivory Wayans. Which of these four has had the most success at the box office?

I went to two sites that provide box office informtion by director: Box Office Mojo and The Numbers. The two sites differ slightly in the numbers they report. When there were differences, I took the average of the two sites.

Here are the box office numbers for the four directors.

 
Spike Lee
Tyler Perry
John Singleton
Keenan Wayans

Total Box Office

$373,204,582

$369,939,423

$436,302,252

$399,329,117

Average Box Office

$20,733,588

$52,848,489

$54,537,781

$66,554,853

In total, John Singleton has been the most successful in total box office, but Keenan Ivory Wayans has done the best on average.

These numbers reflect the domestic box office only. Foreign box office and rental numbers are not included, as they are harder to get. If I can find the time, I might go back and update this post with foreign and rental sales information.

These are the movies for each director, and their domestic box office:

Spike Lee Movies

If Lee’s numbers were adjusted for inflation, they’d look better compared to the other directors. But even so, it’s clear that Lee is not a big money maker. Only one of his films, Inside Man, did over $50 million at the box office.

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