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Black in the Saddle

February 14, 1993

Regarding "We're Not in the 'Hood Anymore," Leo W. Banks' article on the making of the film "Posse" (Jan. 31):

"Sweet Sweetback" did not trigger the blaxploitation cycle of the '70s. The first film to make the industry aware of the box-office potential of particularly the inner-city black audience was Charles Martin's "If He Hollers, Let Him Go" (1968).

The sleeper success of this film was followed two years later by the even more successful "Cotton Comes to Harlem," directed by Ossie Davis, which led to MGM's putting "Shaft" into production; it was actually released about a month before "Sweetback."

For the record, an all-black-cast Western, "Harlem on the Range," was made in the '30s as one of the many low-budgeters made for theaters primarily in the South that catered only to black audiences. In addition to "Buck and the Preacher," only six black-themed Westerns were released in the '70s: "Soul Soldier" and "The Legend of Nigger Charley" (1972), "The Soul of Nigger Charley" (1973), "Thomasine and Bushrod" and "Boss" (1974) and "Take a Hard Ride" (1975).

RICK MITCHELL

Los Angeles

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