Friday, July 25, 2014

"Blood Done Sign My Name" with Ricky Schroder and Nate Parker (2009)

Ricky Schroder shines as Pastor Vernon Tyson in this 2009 film about a preacher who comes to the town of Oxford, North Carolina in 1970 with his family. The film is based upon a true story. It involves a local black man named Dickie Marrow who has just returned from Vietnam and was killed by a white man who thinks he heard him insult his wife. The actual murder was committed by grocer Robert Teel and his son Larry, who were both acquitted of the crime by an all-white jury.

William Chavis was the only real witness to the crime, asides from an elderly black woman. Both of their testimonies were discredited in order for the white men to walk free. During the trial a man arrives in town to organize the resistance among the people. He is known as a “Stoker.” He fuels the fires of dissent, hoping to help effect change. He is the legendary Golden Frinks, who roamed the country from one hot spot to another for the ten years between 1964 and the early 1970’s. This film is as much about him as it is about Dickie Marrow.

It is also a film about the effect our actions have on those around us; not least of whom are our families. Both main characters struggle to maintain a balance of what they are fighting against, as well as an awareness of how those actions will affect their children. This is particularly true of the Pastor’s young son.

Excellent cinematography and location shooting in North Carolina make this an extra special film to watch. The statue of the Confederate soldier is still in front of that court house; and several others in the state. I would not have them removed for all the tea in China. They serve as a reminder of an inglorious past, and were they to be removed we might forget the shame of those times.

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