FIVE ON THE BLACK HAND SIDE REVIEWED
“Five on the Black Hand Side” is a milestone in terms of African-American cinema. While it tackled issues that later films like “Barbershop” and “Soul Food” would touch upon, “Five on the Black Hand Side” got their first. Charlie Russell adapted the script from his play, which served as America’s first real look at the inner-city theater. The cast is about 99.9% African America and their world is the world many saw in the early 1970s. But, there’s a nasty streak to the material.
The lead character is a Depression-era barber who can’t understand his early 70s kids. He grew up as a barber with next-to-nothing. Now, he’s got his own shop and making good money. He believes in the American dream and wonders why his kids reject it. The barber’s daughter and her fiancee (young Carl Franklin) want to have a traditional African wedding. The barber father doesn’t understand why his kids want to make trouble.
This dramatic comedy plays with the need of younger people to find identity, while older women want a say. While it’s far ahead of its time, the film doesn’t pay any of this off. Still, it was a start. Check it out.
- 1.85:1 1080p transfer
- DTS-HD MONO
RELEASE DATE: 2/27/18
- Video - 93%93%
- Audio - 92%92%
- Film Score - 91%91%
The Plot Thus Far
In contrast to most of the violence-laden “blaxploitation” films of the period, this low-budget effort eschews exploitation for humanity and domestic drama. Leonard Jackson plays a barber who is also the domineering head of a middle-class African American family. Jackson is forced to rethink his values when his previously docile wife joins their three children in rebelling against her husband’s retrogressive behavior.