Sweet Jesus, Preacherman


1h 43m 1973
Sweet Jesus, Preacherman

Brief Synopsis

A hitman hides out at a ghetto church.

Film Details

Also Known As
Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Release Date
1973

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m

Synopsis

A hitman hides out at a ghetto church.

Film Details

Also Known As
Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Release Date
1973

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m

Articles

Sweet Jesus Preacherman -


Made at the height of the blaxploitation craze in Hollywood, 1973's Sweet Jesus, Preacherman sits at something of a crossroads between the gritty crime template established by Shaft (1971) and the more socially conscious dramas like The Learning Tree (1969). Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film was announced in the trades in October of 1972 by independent company Entertainment Pyramid, who had just released the drive-in horror perennial Grave of the Vampire (1972).

In fact, this film was part of a slate of releases planned by the company including such tantalizing but never-realized titles as Slavery 1973, Stoker, The Pusher, and another pair of aborted horror films, Tarantula and A Well-Run Mortuary. Unfortunately, the outfit would fold by the end of 1973 after picking up a handful of other exploitable titles like The Black Bunch and The Black Alley Cats.

Two of the stars of Grave of the Vampire, Michael Pataki and William Smith, were brought back here as a senator and a corrupt mob boss respectively, but starring duties went to Roger E. Mosley, best known to '80s television fans as T.C. on the long-running Magnum, P.I. Mosley was being groomed as a black action star at the time thanks to his recent appearances in The Mack (1973) and MGM's Hit Man (1972), and in fact, production on this film was halted for the entire month of February in 1973 so he could appear in a supporting role in Stephanie Rothman's Terminal Island opposite his future TV companion, Tom Selleck.

The role Mosley assumes here is Holmes, a contract killer described in the screenplay as "black, about thirty-five, handsome, rugged, and muscular." In fact, Mosley was seldom as physically imposing as he is here, bringing a hulky demeanor to his morally conflicted criminal who poses as a preacher to keep an eye on racket activity in the local ghetto. In what shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has seen the film, the story was originally intended to end on a much darker note with Holmes dying from fatal gunshot wounds following the climactic church shootout. The character of Beverly (played by Marla Gibbs, later a star on TV's The Jeffersons and Room 227) asks the penultimate line, "What's a preacher doing with a gun?," only to be brushed off by a cop who tells her to not question it and go uptown (not Chinatown, but close enough). Needless to say, the released version features an obviously tacked-on, reshot ending designed to leave audiences on a more upbeat note.

Perhaps the most successful aspect of Sweet Jesus, Preacherman is its striking soundtrack, a combination of soul, funk, and gospel music engineered by jazz composer and pianist Horace Tapscott, founder of the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra. In fact, R&B legend Johnny Pate lent a hand to the film's theme, "Forgotten Man (Sweetstick's Theme)," which was issued as a 45 single along with the film's rendition of "We the People" as its b-side. However, in a rarity for a blaxploitation film of the era, a full soundtrack LP was never released.

However, that didn't stop MGM from pushing the music as a primary selling point for the film, with particular emphasis on the gospel performances. In fact, while the film wasn't granted any trade screenings (which may account for the late and less-than-enthusiastic reviews), the promotion was aggressive all around, including suggestions that local theaters "dress a black actor as a preacher for personal appearances." As usual, the theatrical trailer also came with a horde of memorable tag lines: "Sweet Jesus! Is he a soldier of God... or just a soldier? A preacher man who swings as hard as he talks! Sweet Jesus - you can't out-talk him and you can't out-fight him! Amen, brother!" Right on.

By Nathaniel Thompson
Sweet Jesus Preacherman -

Sweet Jesus Preacherman -

Made at the height of the blaxploitation craze in Hollywood, 1973's Sweet Jesus, Preacherman sits at something of a crossroads between the gritty crime template established by Shaft (1971) and the more socially conscious dramas like The Learning Tree (1969). Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film was announced in the trades in October of 1972 by independent company Entertainment Pyramid, who had just released the drive-in horror perennial Grave of the Vampire (1972). In fact, this film was part of a slate of releases planned by the company including such tantalizing but never-realized titles as Slavery 1973, Stoker, The Pusher, and another pair of aborted horror films, Tarantula and A Well-Run Mortuary. Unfortunately, the outfit would fold by the end of 1973 after picking up a handful of other exploitable titles like The Black Bunch and The Black Alley Cats. Two of the stars of Grave of the Vampire, Michael Pataki and William Smith, were brought back here as a senator and a corrupt mob boss respectively, but starring duties went to Roger E. Mosley, best known to '80s television fans as T.C. on the long-running Magnum, P.I. Mosley was being groomed as a black action star at the time thanks to his recent appearances in The Mack (1973) and MGM's Hit Man (1972), and in fact, production on this film was halted for the entire month of February in 1973 so he could appear in a supporting role in Stephanie Rothman's Terminal Island opposite his future TV companion, Tom Selleck. The role Mosley assumes here is Holmes, a contract killer described in the screenplay as "black, about thirty-five, handsome, rugged, and muscular." In fact, Mosley was seldom as physically imposing as he is here, bringing a hulky demeanor to his morally conflicted criminal who poses as a preacher to keep an eye on racket activity in the local ghetto. In what shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has seen the film, the story was originally intended to end on a much darker note with Holmes dying from fatal gunshot wounds following the climactic church shootout. The character of Beverly (played by Marla Gibbs, later a star on TV's The Jeffersons and Room 227) asks the penultimate line, "What's a preacher doing with a gun?," only to be brushed off by a cop who tells her to not question it and go uptown (not Chinatown, but close enough). Needless to say, the released version features an obviously tacked-on, reshot ending designed to leave audiences on a more upbeat note. Perhaps the most successful aspect of Sweet Jesus, Preacherman is its striking soundtrack, a combination of soul, funk, and gospel music engineered by jazz composer and pianist Horace Tapscott, founder of the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra. In fact, R&B legend Johnny Pate lent a hand to the film's theme, "Forgotten Man (Sweetstick's Theme)," which was issued as a 45 single along with the film's rendition of "We the People" as its b-side. However, in a rarity for a blaxploitation film of the era, a full soundtrack LP was never released. However, that didn't stop MGM from pushing the music as a primary selling point for the film, with particular emphasis on the gospel performances. In fact, while the film wasn't granted any trade screenings (which may account for the late and less-than-enthusiastic reviews), the promotion was aggressive all around, including suggestions that local theaters "dress a black actor as a preacher for personal appearances." As usual, the theatrical trailer also came with a horde of memorable tag lines: "Sweet Jesus! Is he a soldier of God... or just a soldier? A preacher man who swings as hard as he talks! Sweet Jesus - you can't out-talk him and you can't out-fight him! Amen, brother!" Right on. By Nathaniel Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States 1972