Nor can we overlook "A Change of Habit," in which Elvis Presley played a "Doctor with a Conscience" who practices medicine in the inner city. If there were ever a movie that tapped into the theme of "Three Cheers for White Folks!" this was it. Elvis, of course, was reputed to have once said that the only thing black people could do for him was to "buy my records." What he really meant was: "The only thing black people can do for me is to take three aspirins and call me in the morning."
Personally, I am not so sure that the "Bwana" films have a homegrown American pedigree. To my mind, the series has its roots in 1951's "Cry, the Beloved Country" (mean old white South African guy builds new church for poor old black minister whose thuggish son killed the mean old white guy's truly fantabulous son).
The tradition can also be seen in "The Ghost and the Darkness," in which Val Kilmer (great white hunter) and Michael Douglas (not-so-great white hunter) go gunning for a pair of marauding lions that have eaten half the population of the Sudan. Again, the underlying theme comes through loud and clear: If things are looking black, just sit tight and wait for the white folks to show up. Sooner or later, Val Kilmer will get those lions in his sights. It might take a while -- the lions apparently ate about 150 Africans -- but it will eventually happen. Just be patient.
Whatever the case, I for one am sorry to see this string of movies come to an end. Hopefully, as with such beloved, long-running series as "Star Wars," "The Godfather," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Jeepers Creepers," the producers of these magnificent films about Africa can be persuaded to put together a few more movies to lift the hearts of black people everywhere.
I personally would love to see a movie about a washed-up South Philadelphia Italian American heavyweight fast approaching 60 who flies to Nairobi just to help a hapless black African champion roughly half his age prove his mettle by facing the ultimate challenge: Going the distance with a washed-up South Philadelphia Italian American heavyweight fast approaching 60 who probably stands about 5 feet 8.
But maybe that would seem too farfetched.