That’s Blaxploitation! 6: TOGETHER BROTHERS (20th Century Fox 1973)

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Many Blaxploitation films of the 70’s feature super-bad ass-kickers like Shaft, Superfly, or Cleopatra Jones, but the heroes of TOGETHER BROTHERS are a motley crew of street punks in this unheralded but well done film. Shot in Galveston, Texas, and featuring a cast of unknowns as the gang, TOGETHER BROTHERS is a gritty urban thriller about some boys in the hood on the hunt for a psycho cop killer. The movie gives a realistic look at ghetto life and street culture that’s as relevant today as it was forty years ago.

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Black patrol cop “Mr. Kool” is respected around the ghetto for being fair with its denizens, including young HJ and his posse. When he’s brutally shot to death by a mysterious assailant, HJ’s little brother Tommy witnesses the killing, and is so traumatized he’s rendered mute. HJ and the others (Mau Mau, AP, Monk) feel “the street owes Mr. Kool”, and begin their own investigation. With the aid of rival Chicano gang leader Vega, the two crews stage a fake rumble while HJ and Vega sneak into the police station and steal Mr. Kool’s arrest files, hoping for mug shots to show Tommy. No pictures are provided, so the gang takes names and search the streets, hitting the pool halls and whorehouses of Galveston for leads. They find a connection through drag queen Maria that leads them to Billy Most, a recently paroled convicted kidnapper and child molester. Billy Most became unhinged during his last prison bid, and he goes after Tommy, violently stabbing HJ’s prostitute girlfriend to death in the process. Now the chase is on as Tommy is stalked by the madman, with HJ and the others in hot pursuit to save the child and avenge Mr. Kool.

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As I said before, TOGETHER BROTHERS features unknown actors in the leads, and despite their relative inexperience, they do quite well conveying the bleak world of street life. Ahmed Nurradin is especially good as HJ, the gang’s leader. He’s tough on the outside, but shows tenderness toward little bro Tommy, who idolizes him. Among the more familiar faces, Mr. Kool is played by Ed Bernard, known for his television work on POLICE WOMAN and THE WHITE SHADOW. Glynn Turman (COOLEY HIGH, JD’S REVENGE) has a small part as a child psychologist. Lincoln Kilpatrick (THE OMEGA MAN, Soylent Green , THE MASTER GUNFIGHTER) is Billy Most, and his portrayal of the twisted, tormented killer is a tour de force that’s worth the price of admission.

William A. Graham got his start in episodic TV (NAKED CITY, 12 O’CLOCK HIGH, THE FUGITIVE, even a two-part BATMAN), before directing his first feature, the James Coburn Western WATERHOLE #3. Graham only directed a handful of theatrical movies, but truly made his mark in the TV Movie genre during the 70’s and 80’s, helming over fifty of them! Some of his better known titles are THIEF!, BEYOND THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE, THE AMAZING HOWARD HUGHES, CONTRACT ON CHERRY STREET (starring Frank Sinatra in a comeback role), WOMEN OF SAN QUENTIN, and CALENDAR GIRL MURDERS.

The funky score is by 70’s disco/soul maestro Barry White and his Love Unlimited Orchestra. White was born in Galveston, and knew a thing or two about the streets before becoming the velvety smooth bass voice of young lovers everywhere. TOGETHER BROTHERS is more raw and down-to-earth than your average Blaxpolitation film, with solid street cred and no jive, and a memorable villain in Lincoln Kilpatrick. It’s well worth your time, and deserves a chance to be rediscovered.

Other “That’s Blaxploitation!” posts:

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