Picks and Pans Review: A Gathering of Old Men
updated 05/11/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/11/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
A crazed white Cajun chases a black man through a Louisiana canefield. "I come to kill you, boy!" the bigot yells. Then, from a shack where an old black man named Mathu lives, a shot is fired. And the white man is dead. Fear spreads fast. But there's something different about this day. Pride spreads faster. At the urging of Holly (Raising Arizona) Hunter, a white plantation heiress, 18 old black men come with their guns to stand by Mathu, each one ready to confess to the killing. They all give rich, warm performances for the sheriff—and for the audience. Papa John Creach (the jazz-rock violinist), Joe Seneca, Woody Strode, Tiger Haynes, Julius Harris and the other old men out-act the stars: Louis Gossett Jr. as Mathu and Richard Widmark as the sheriff. Gathering has just a few off moments when its messages blink in neon—but they don't distract from this wonderful story about courage and justice.