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April 2007


By Kam Williams



1977 Inner City Sage Finally Enjoys Long Overdue Theatrical Release 
Distributor: Milestone Film & Video
Director: Charles Burnett
Screenwriter: Charles Burnett
Cast: Henry Gayle Sanders, Kaycee Moore, Angela Burnett
Black & White 
Running time: 80 minutes 


Stan (Henry Gayle Sanders) seems totally disillusioned with life. He’s cut himself off emotionally from his frustrated wife (Kaycee Moore) who’s been desperately dolling herself up to try to turn her hubby’s head for the first time in eons. And though he’s committed to his kids, Angela (Angela Burnett) and Stan, Jr. (Jack Drummond), he’s too physically drained by the time he arrives home from work to devote any quality time to their needs. That darn job is another unbearable aspect of Stan’s existence, for he’s employed in a slaughterhouse where he’s surrounded by death on a daily basis. To top it all off, he and his family live in the Watts section of L.A. and, as a minimum-wage slave, his prospects for getting out of the ghetto aren’t very good.

This dire scenario is the point of departure of Killer of Sheep, a spellbinding, black & white film written and directed by Charles Burnett. Though shot in 1977, the movie for some reason has never enjoyed a theatrical run till now. Fortunately, this super-realistic, slice-of-life drama stands up just fine, delivering a more accurate peek at the psyche and predicament of the black male than any of the recent Seventies retro blacksploits such as Pride and Roll Bounce.

The ‘hood as a vast, urban quicksand where the dreams and potential of a
generation of African-Americans are being swallowed up wholesale.