“WHATEVER YOU WANT THEY’VE GOT… And Bucktown is where you’ll find it!”
Director: Arthur Marks
Cast: Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Thalmus Rasulala
Synopsis: Duke Johnson visits a small Southern town intent on burying his brother. After the funeral, he learns that he must stay for 60 days, for the estate to be processed.
Bucktown is a typical 1970s Blaxploitation movie, and so is unthinkingly revered in some quarters simply for being just that, with little thought given to trivialities such as plot, characterisation, acting, etc. Who needs all that when we have Fred ’The Hammer’ Williamson kicking butt and Pam Grier getting her bad boys out for the obligatory love/sex scene?
Williamson plays Duke Johnson, who comes to the town of Buchanan – known as Bucktown because of its large black population – to claim his inheritance following the death of his brother. His inheritance is a closed bar called Club Alabama, which Duke intends to sell quick so that he can move on. Dismayed to find that he has to wait 60 days before he can do this, Duke decides to re-open the club while he waits for the time to pass. When the corrupt police department tries shaking him down for protection money, Duke throws them out on their butts. His complaints to the chief of police (Art Lund) fall pretty much on deaf ears and he also learns that his brother was murdered by the police when he tried refusing to pay.
Duke calls on his old pal Roy (The wonderfully-named Thalmus Rasulala) to provide some firepower for protection, and when he turns up with backup (including a pre-Apollo Creed Carl Weathers) it’s not long before the police department is wiped out. The town mayor is so grateful that he installs Roy and his enforcers as the new police department, but it’s not long before they’re abusing their power in the same ways as their white predecessors.
On paper, Bucktown has all the necessary ingredients to make an entertaining blast of a movie, but it’s let down by a flat delivery, some amateurish performances and dull direction from Arthur Marks. Pam Grier in particular gives a horribly overwrought performance as the ex-love of Duke’s brother who, after her initial antagonism towards him, becomes Duke’s love interest. One moment that does stand out is a scene of exceptional brutality during which one of Roy’s sidekicks silences a crooked cop begging for his life by smashing his face in with a baseball bat. It’s a long shot, but it’s so far removed from the standard cartoon-like violence of the rest of the movie that it did – briefly – arouse this viewer from his torpor.
(Reviewed 21st July 2012)