Friday, May 1, 2009

My Personal Heroes Of Black Action

When looking back at films of the 70s & 80s, there are inevitably some running themes throughout these films that keep me coming back for more. Whether they be films of Action, Suspense, Drama, Horror or otherwise, I am inclined to find my groove in the pictures that speak directly me, to who I am. Most of the time finding these kinds of films is greatly helped because of a charismatic actor or actress. One who lays down his or her charms which you immediately attract to, identify with or worship. This first go round of idol worship i'm devoting to the African American actors of action themed films past who not only showed they got charisma, but also proved to kick some major ass.

Austin Stoker (b.1943) of Assault On Precinct 13, Abby and Sheba, Baby.
Austin was always a cool mutha, and he illustrates that well in these films. Carpenter gave Austin the lead role in ASSAULT which acts as a sort of modern western and he's ever bit the man Gary Cooper was in his films. Austin's line reading in ASSAULT "It's a siege! It's a goddamn siege!" never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Fred Williamson (b.1938) of Black Caesar, Three The Hard Way and Hammer 
Fred was certainly the most prolific of his peers and he scored quite a few hits throughout the 70s. He even took on role as director in quite a few films and proved that a man of action can do it all. Fred's the kind of guy all us other guys wish they could be. The only thing is, there can be only one Fred.

Richard Roundtree (b.1942) of Shaft, One Down Two To Go and Charley One Eye
SHAFT was the man. There's no getting around it. Roundtree scored a huge hit here (one of the most profitable films of the 70s) and it spawned 2 sequels and 1 not so offical sequel called DIAMONDS (AKA: DIAMOND SHAFT) Heck, there was even a short lived TV-Series. Roundtree's career as leading man tapered off a bit, however the man worked ALL THE TIME. His credits rival most others and he even has 4 projects in the can coming up. Can you dig it?

Ken Foree (b.1948) of Dawn Of The Dead, From Beyond and Leatherface
Ken Foree is god. I mean, this guy is cooler than cool. I'm glad he's still getting the recognition he deserves, even if it took Rob Zombie to give him a career resurgence with his mostly inept films. He went from Kicking Zombie ass to working with Zombie ass, but manages to always shine.

Jim Brown (b.1936) of The Dirty Dozen, Slaughter and Fingers
Jim Brown is one scary mutha (see: Fingers) and he really excelled at playing scary guys throughout his career, heroes or not. Not to mention his football days. But in this photo, he looks like he wants to have your baby. So ladies, get ready. Seriously though, Jim Brown in my book is the most successful translation of sports guy to movie tough guy. Sorry The Rock (and O.J.!)

Steve James (b.1952-1993) of Every Cannon film of the the 1980s! (American Ninjas, Delta Force, Avenging Force...)
Steve James was the real deal when it came to being a man of action. He was trained both in the stunt world and the theater so he could act as well as he could fight. Sadly, often he was only cast as Michael Dudikoff's wacky punch-packing sidekick. It's a shame really, but he's left us with a fun legacy regardless. Steve even rocked a (mostly silent) cameo in WEIRD SCIENCE and he was one of the baseball furies in THE WARRIORS!

Carl Weathers (b.1948) of Action Jackson, Predator and Rocky 1-4
Who can resist touching Carl Weathers, anyway? Even though he had quite a few credits under his belt by then, Carl's career in the 80s was probably his strongest and most memorable. After battling Rocky and a Predator he finally got his own action movie with the title role in ACTION JACKSON. This would prove to be the first (and only) big budget hollywood actioner starring an african-american of the 80s. He kind of got a bum deal as the movie wasn't written or directed very well (not to mention being fondled by Craig T. Nelson) but it's very memorable for being pretty violent and fun regardless. Carl lives that role up beautifully. I so want a sequel now!

Rudy Ray Moore (b.1927-2008) of Dolemite, Disco Godfather and The Monkey Hu$tle Whereas Jim Brown was the scariest of the bunch, Rudy Ray Moore certainly was the craziest. Witness this album cover, yo! He started as a singer, moved to action and then later became a comedian. Rudy was a true original.

Bernie Casey (b.1939) of Never Say Never Again, Brothers and Cleopatra Jones
Bernie was never really technically a man of action films, but I put him on the list, regardless. He's the classiest gentleman. like ever. Always looking sharp, he always gets my attention in whatever he's in. I so want to be him! And dig his role in Revenge Of The Nerds as the weary Lambda Lambda Lambda head, U.N. Jefferson.

Yaphet Kotto (b.1937) of Across 110th Street, Bone and Alien
Kotto's like the only actor ever who sports a rug that I truly admire. He's great in everything he's in and always comes across as real. I must admit, his stint on the long running Homicide was like one of the only reasons I watched that show. And I urge everyone to see ACROSS 110th Street as that's like one of the best movies ever!


FilmFather said...

Cool list. I loved Steve James in I'm Gonna Get You Sucka as Kung Fu Joe. And Yaphet Kotto was pretty bad-ass as the heavy in Isaac Hayes' '70s flick Truck Turner.

Question: Is that Rudy Ray Moore album his singing or his comedy? Either way, I'm laughing!

Cinema Du Meep said...

It's more comedy than music.
That man ruled!

Amanda By Night said...

Awesome list. I am proud to say that I know or have met (or been near) a few of these fine, fine men. And I ain't kidding. Some hot machismo on this list!

I know Ken Foree casually and he's just as cool as you think he's going to be. I see him from time to time and he always takes a little bit of his time to talk to me and it makes me giggle!

I have also met Fred Williamson (who was fanastic to me) and been NEAR Carl Weathers (which is enough for me! My god, he is scorching hot, even now in his 60s!). And I've seen Austin Stoker speak at a screening of the Zebra Killer. They were also showing Grizzly so Andrew Prine was there. Wow, talk about an orgasm!

I think of all the men on this list, I love Steve James the most. Maybe it's because he left us way to soon that he's been etched in my heart so, but I still think of him often and love just about everything I've ever seen him in. And yes, Film Father he was amazing in I'm Gonna Get You Sucka!

I love this list. I can't wait to see more of your Personal Heroes. You have great taste!

Keith said...

Wow! What a cool list! I totally agree with you on all of these. These are some really cool and tough guys. Fred Williamson is my favorite of them, but I think they are all great.

Racicot said...

Right on.

And remember Isaac Hayes in 'Truck Turner.'


p.s. came to your blog via Amanda by night.

Cinema Du Meep said...

Racicot -

Amanda By Night rules. Like a hebrew national frank, you come from the highest authority! ;)

Ty said...

Excellent List!

Action Jackson is a classic!

Also, if i didn't mention this before: Great Site!

Cinema Du Meep said...

Thanks Ty!

MC said...

I am hoping to find a copy of Bernie Casey's Hit Man soon. That dude is a legend, and one of the few good things in Spies Like Us.

Cinema Du Meep said...


You'll be happy to know that Hit Man is now on DVD, courtesy of Warner Archives.

You can find it here:,default,pd.html

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