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8 December 2021

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Film review: The Harder They Fall

A unique Western about black cowboys

The Harder They Fall Photo: Netflix

The Harder They Fall Photo: Netflix   (Click to enlarge)

Ian Pattison, North London Socialist Party

'The Harder They Fall' is a new Western on Netflix. The movie sets are stylised and the gunfights are majestically choreographed. But the film also stands out for its all-black cast, something that is almost entirely unique for a cowboy film.

The film, roughly set in the late 19th century, is actually closer to the reality. A quarter of cowboys were black. The filmmakers were motivated to make the audience aware of the history of black people in the 'Wild West'.

The majority of the plot is an engaging story of revenge between rival gangs. But politics does come up.

The question is left hanging whether the terrible things the characters do are justified. Is it the only realistic means of survival for black people in the racist landscape?

There were hundreds of all-black towns in the US in this time period. Even the film's most loathsome characters mobilise support for themselves by offering to defend these municipalities.

The range-cattle industry was as close to equality as black people got in this era. On the surface, wages were equal, although black cowboys were expected to work longer, harder, do more demeaning jobs and were rarely promoted.

Black and white cowboys would share sleeping quarters and even blankets. But the travelling black workers would be banned from restaurants.

The Harder They Fall doesn't portray any of the solidarity that black and white cowboys would've inevitably shared. But it does open the viewer to a world Hollywood has hidden.

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In The Socialist 8 December 2021:


News

Unite to fight for pay and NHS we deserve

Government social care plans: Where is the money?

Uni staff and students must unite to end marketisation and for free education

Covid news in brief


What we think

Workers' politics needed to exploit Tory scandal and splits


People's Budgets

Building People's Budgets: An alternative to Tory and Labour cuts


International news

Chile presidential election - stop the far-right candidate

Unprecedented floods in British Columbia

Wider working-class and union struggle needed to win St Vincent nurses' strike

Defending abortion rights in the US


Workplace news

Universities strike - build the action and stand united to win

Thousands of Tesco warehouse workers to strike

Sandwell bin workers beat Serco and win pay rise

Panasonic workers break company pay freeze

Clarks strikers defeat 'fire and rehire'

Organise to win the NEU's 8% pay demand

Yorkshire Stagecoach bus workers' week-long strike

Worksop Wincanton logistics workers on strike

Newham Sixth Form College begins strike against academisation

Sheffield Just East couriers picket and march for pay rise

Napo ballots for trade dispute


Campaigns news

Affordable housing for all

Challenge cutters and evictors in Waltham Forest Council

Remembering Tony Davison

Fighting Fund: Help us reach over 50,000

Defying unjust laws - a rich history of struggle

Mail attacks tube strikers by stealing socialist's image


Review

Film review: The Harder They Fall


 

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Article dated 8 December 2021

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