OPINION: Mario Van Peebles directed and starred in this 1993 western that you should watch and not just because of Salli Richardson.
Do you remember when Oprah Winfrey produced the made-for-television version of Zora Neale Hurston’s classic and iconic book, Their Eyes Were Watching God?
Halle Berry played the lead character, Janie Crawford, but in my heart, I kind of felt like Salli Richardson would have been more fitting in that role. In fact, I think she would be great in any role; Salli Richardson is great.
For instance, Salli Richardson was also in Posse, the 1993 film directed by and starring Mario Van Peebles. Posse is a Spanish-American era (the late 1800s) ensemble cast film starring Peebles, Tone Loc, Big Daddy Kane, Stephen Baldwin, Tiny Lister, Blair Underwood, Reginald VelJohnson and Salli Richardson, among a slew of other Black luminaries. I can’t say everybody is in this film, but I mean, that “slew of others” includes Vesta Williams, Isaac Hayes, Melvin Van Peebles, Pam Grier, and the list goes on and on.
I don’t even know if the movie is any good, but I’ve probably seen it a smooth hundred times. Maybe you have, too. Maybe for Salli Richardson.
Maybe you understand why I’m saying that. Maybe you watch for the historical and educational value of watching a story about Black Buffalo Soldiers. There are lots of reasons to choose from. Allow me to elucidate and illuminate five that have nothing to do with Salli Richardson.
I’m overkilling the Salli Richardson thing for a few reasons: 1) If you’ve seen this movie, you get it; and 2) I’ve had entire arguments with folks (mostly dudes) who have literally said she’s the ONLY reason to watch it, something I vehemently disagree with that also isn’t not a reason why you should watch it if you know what I mean? Maybe not. Let’s just move on.
1. We have two rappers starring in a movie in 1993 that isn’t about the hood or hip-hop; I’m not saying this is the first time this has happened, but it very well could be.
Big Daddy Kane wasn’t exactly the same lyrical force he was in the ’80s by the time Posse came out, but he was still Big Daddy Kane; his name carried weight. Tone Loc similarly was past his chart-topping heyday, but still, Tone Loc and Big Daddy Kane!!! East Coast and West Coast rappers in a movie playing out cowboy fantasies is awesome. Salli Richardson does not rap in this movie.
Big Daddy Kane in “Posse.” (MGM)
2. Bruh, Salli Richardson looks amazing in this movie.
What…you think I wasn’t actually going to do this? Come on. Just, come on now.
3. The Black folks win in the end.
There’s a lot of shooting and dying in this movie; it’s a western, after all. But you know who makes it to the end of the movie? The Black stars. And also, Mario Van Peebles’ character, Jesse Lee, is a baaaaaaaaaad man. He’s smart, calculated, cool, suave and on a mission to get revenge for the death of his father, King David. Jesse Lee is a leader, and Mario Van Peebles played the hell out of that role. And oh yeah, the Black folks, with Jesse Lee as the lead, win in the end. Lana, played by Salli Richardson, is also alive in the end. She wins, too.
4. I enjoyed the storyline about a Black town doing for and building up itself.
The movie kind of centers on Freemanville, a town founded by and for African-Americans by Jesse Lee’s father, King David. The white folks and the Ku Klux Klan from the next town over, Cutterstown, kill King David and exert control over the residents of Freemanville. Jesse Lee is back to both liberate Freemanville and get his revenge and move on with his life, hopefully with Lana, who, if you’ll remember, is played by Salli Richardson.
Salli Richardson and Mario Van Peebles in “Posse.” (MGM)
5. It’s fun to see Black writers and directors get creative with the story and setting like they do in Posse.
We’ve got Buffalo Soldiers, the Spanish-American War, Cuba, revenge, cowboys, love stories (with Salli Richardson), and loads of famous Black people taking on roles in this fictional, historical society and film. I love it.
Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!