Sidney Poitier stars in this comedy western, his directorial debut, alongside Harry Belafonte. The pair play ex-slaves heading for the far west who are headhunted by employers at plantations eager for cheap labour. Buck (Poitier) is an ex-Cavalryman who has found a niche as a wagonmaster and Belafonte excels as a con-man behind the façade of the preacher. The impressive acting triangle is completed by Ruby Dee, who is romantically entwined with Buck. Cameron Mitchell plays a suitably evil villain.
A buddy film without the racial frictions of the other successful partnerships Poitier was involved with – notably In the Heat of the Night and The Defiant Ones – Buck and the Preacher scores points for having a broad appeal and an agreeable humour that develops nicely, especially as the film moves into its second half.
The film was a hit with the big-name critics. Maltin was impressed by the ‘good characterisations’ while Variety hailed it an: ‘Entertaining comedy and drama… Belafonte dominates the film.’ Time Out too was impressed with the acting: ‘…excellent performances by Poitier and Belafonte…’ while Halliwell applauded this: ‘Lively, easygoing western’.
USA | 102 minutes | 1972
Director: Sidney Poitier
Writer: Ernest Kinoy based on a story by Kinoy and Drake Walker
Sidney Poitier as Buck
Harry Belafonte as The Preacher
Ruby Dee as Ruth
Clarence Muse as Cudjo
Cameron Mitchell as Deshay
Denny Miller as Floyd
Nita Talbot as Madam Esther
Tony Brubaker as Head man
Bobby Johnson as Man who is shot
James McEachin as Kingston
Lynn Hamilton as Sarah
Doug Johnson as Sam