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HISTORY

The film’s main story is framed by scenes of an elderly African-American man being interviewed by reporters about black cowboys in the Old West. At the end of the interview, the man reveals that as a young boy living in “Freemanville,” he met Jessie Lee, and gives the reporters a book from Jessie that contains the story of Nicodemus.
       A written epilogue reads: “The majority of Black towns were destroyed, partly due to laws like the ‘Grandfather Clause,’ which kept African-Americans from voting on the basis that their grandfathers as slaves had not voted. Often intimidated or lynched if they tried to own property, and discouraged from educating themselves, most of the early Black settlers were successfully kept from power. Today, approximately twelve percent of Americans are African-Americans. However, that twelve percent owns less than one-half of one percent of America’s wealth. Although ignored by Hollywood and most history books, the memory of the more than 8,000 Black cowboys that roamed the early West lives on.”
       End credits are superimposed over scenes from the film, historical photographs, and footage from The Bronze Buckaroo (1939), Harlem Rides the Range (1939), and Once Upon a Time in the West (1969, see entries).
       On 31 Jul 1992, DV announced that Mario Van Peebles would direct and star in Posse for Working Title Films. The script, written by Sy Richardson and first-time screenwriter Dario Scardapane, was loosely based on the life of Richardson’s grandfather, a Southern Evangelical Baptist minister who traveled throughout black communities in the late nineteenth century.
       Although filming of the $10 million picture was originally scheduled to take place in ... More Less

The film’s main story is framed by scenes of an elderly African-American man being interviewed by reporters about black cowboys in the Old West. At the end of the interview, the man reveals that as a young boy living in “Freemanville,” he met Jessie Lee, and gives the reporters a book from Jessie that contains the story of Nicodemus.
       A written epilogue reads: “The majority of Black towns were destroyed, partly due to laws like the ‘Grandfather Clause,’ which kept African-Americans from voting on the basis that their grandfathers as slaves had not voted. Often intimidated or lynched if they tried to own property, and discouraged from educating themselves, most of the early Black settlers were successfully kept from power. Today, approximately twelve percent of Americans are African-Americans. However, that twelve percent owns less than one-half of one percent of America’s wealth. Although ignored by Hollywood and most history books, the memory of the more than 8,000 Black cowboys that roamed the early West lives on.”
       End credits are superimposed over scenes from the film, historical photographs, and footage from The Bronze Buckaroo (1939), Harlem Rides the Range (1939), and Once Upon a Time in the West (1969, see entries).
       On 31 Jul 1992, DV announced that Mario Van Peebles would direct and star in Posse for Working Title Films. The script, written by Sy Richardson and first-time screenwriter Dario Scardapane, was loosely based on the life of Richardson’s grandfather, a Southern Evangelical Baptist minister who traveled throughout black communities in the late nineteenth century.
       Although filming of the $10 million picture was originally scheduled to take place in several locations across the Southwestern U.S., a 20 Oct 1992 HR production chart listed Tucson, AZ, as the sole location. HR reported a starting date of 15 Oct 1992, but various DV and Var production charts indicated that principal photography began 12 Oct 1992.
       Materials in AMPAS library files indicate that Posse played at the San Francisco Film Festival on 5 May 1993. Items in the 3 May 1993 Var and 5 May 1993 DV stated that back-to-back benefit screenings took place at the Criterion Theater in New York City and the Baldwin Theater in Los Angeles, CA, on 10 and 11 May 1993. However, a 14 May 1993 LAT brief noted that the official West Coast premiere was held 12 May 1993 at Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome.
       Posse was the first feature film released by Polygram’s distribution arm, Gramercy Pictures, following its formation in 1992. Despite critical acclaim, the film was barred from being screened at the Cineplex Odeon in Universal City, CA, because a shooting previously took place there during the release of Boyz N the Hood (1991, see entry). The 24 May 1993 HR quoted Van Peebles, who was speaking at a panel discussion at the Cannes Film Festival, that the decision to restrict his film’s distribution due to fear of violence represented yet another way that Hollywood kept black filmmakers at a disadvantage.
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “Historical photographs courtesy of: Arizona Historical Society/Tucson; Black American West Museum & Heritage Center; Denver Public Library, Western History Department; Fort Sill Museum, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Smith National Historic Site, Ft. Smith, Arkansas; Frontier Army Museum, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; Historical Society of North Dakota; Institute of Texan Culture; Montana Historical Society; Nebraska State Historical Society; Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas; Pennell Collection, University of Kansas; Texas Memorial Museum; U.S. Army Military History Institute; Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Library”; “Special Thanks to: Morgana and Maya; Richard Arlook; David Daugherty; Tobie Haggerty; Jane Moore; Malcolm Ritchie; Joe Rosenberg; Brent ‘Van Guard’ Schaefer; Jill Tandy; The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, John Langellier; Arizona Buffalo Soldier Re-Enactors Association; Ocean Voyages, Inc., of Sausalito, California; San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park; A&M Records: David Anderle, Al Cafaro, Milton Olin, and PolyGram Music Publishing Group: Danny Benair, Colin Cornish, Paula Erickson, Michael Sandoval, Joan Schulman”; “The Bronze Buckaroo and Harlem Rides the Range courtesy of Budget Films Stock Footage”; and, “Clip of Woody Strode from Once Upon a Time in the West courtesy of Paramount Pictures Corporation.”
       A dedication reads: “This film is dedicated to the memory of Rev. King David Lee (1883—1979) and Abe Richardson (1860—1961).” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1992.
---
Daily Variety
5 May 1993.
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Daily Variety
31 Jul 1992
p. 1, 21.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1993
p. 5, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 1993
p. 7, 23.
Los Angeles Times
14 May 1993
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
14 May 1993.
---
New York Times
14 May 1993
Section C, p. 15.
Variety
18 Dec 1992.
---
Variety
3 May 1993
p. 40.
Variety
3 May 1993.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
[and]
(Badd Boyz of the Industry):
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Presents
A Working Title Production
A Mario Van Peebles Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-exec prod
Co-exec prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam & Steadicam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl cam op
Addl 1st asst cam
Video assist
Video assist, OHS II Productions
Video assist, OHS II Productions
Gaffer
Best boy
Lead spark/2d unit gaffer
1st elec
2d elec
2d unit rigging gaffer
2d unit elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Rigging grip
Swing grip
Still photog
Addl still photog
Cam intern
Cam intern
Lighting, grip, trucks and generators supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Spec period photog
Storyboard artist
Art prod asst
Art prod asst
Art prod asst
Art prod asst
Art prod asst
Art prod asst
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Addl asst film ed
Negative cutting by
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const coord
Key scenic
Asst dec
Leadman
Set dresser/Sculptor
On set dresser
On set dresser
Set dresser
Swing crew
Swing crew
Swing crew
Swing crew
Sculptor
Sculptor
Draftsman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const formean
Const foreman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Lead scenics
Lead scenics
Scenics
Scenics
Scenics
Scenics
Scenics
Sign painter
Portrait painter
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst props
COSTUMES
Cost des
Key costumer
Costumer
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus supv
Exec soundtrack album prod
Mus score performed, arr and cond by
Percussion by The "Mocliksa" Tribe
Percussion by The "Mocliksa" Tribe
Choir cond by
Concertmaster
Mus preparation
Scoring mixer
Asst by
Sleepless nights provided by
Mus ed
Mus ed
Mus coord
Mus consultant for PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
2d boom op
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Addl ADR ed
Supv Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Sd eff rec
Sd eff rec
Sd eff coord
Sd eff coord
Sd ed
Supv rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Foley mixer
ADR rec
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Dolby eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
FX foreman
FX asst
FX asst
FX asst
FX asst
Golden bullet eff by
Dir, Trio Visual Effects
Prod supv, Trio Visual Effects
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Key hair stylist
Asst hair stylist
Key make-up
Asst make-up
Asst make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod supv
Financial consultant
1st asst auditor
2d asst auditor
Loc supv
2d unit supv/Asst to the Van Peebles
Extras casting
Casting asst/Extras casting asst
Casting asst
Accountant
Weapons specialist
Livestock coord
Lead wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Loc asst
Unit pub
Head of prod, For Working Title
Development exec, For Working Title
Development exec, For Working Title
Financial controller, For Working Title
Local and business affairs, For Working Title
Exec prods' asst, For Working Title
Exec prods' asst, For Working Title
Exec prods' asst, For Working Title
Asst to prods
Asst to Mr. Baldwin
Prod secy
Key set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Pre-prod coord
Prod coord
Film runner/Office asst
Intern
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod catering, Michelson Food Services
Prod catering, Michelson Food Services
Addl catering, Americana Mobile Catering Co.
Addl catering, Americana Mobile Catering Co.
Craft services
Set medic
Ambulance EMT
Teacher/Welfare
Voice casting
Big cheese
Stills research
Legal services provided by
Prod insurance provided by
Completion guaranty supplied by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“One Night Of Freedom,” written by Shydi Evans and Damian Johnson, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Shydi Music Publishing/Dizz Music Publishing (ASCAP), performed and produced by B.B.O.T.I. (Badd Boyz Of The Industry), courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
“One Night Of Freedom (Instrumental Version),” written by Shydi Evans and Damian Johnson, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Shydi Music Publishing/Dizz Music Publishing (ASCAP), arranged by Michael Melvoin
“Ride Of Your Life,” written by Mario Van Peebles, published my PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Oh Yeah, Inc. (ASCAP), performed by Vesta, produced by Michael Eckart, additional production by Phillip Biff Vincent, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
“One Night Of Freedom,” written by Shydi Evans and Damian Johnson, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Shydi Music Publishing/Dizz Music Publishing (ASCAP), performed and produced by B.B.O.T.I. (Badd Boyz Of The Industry), courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
“One Night Of Freedom (Instrumental Version),” written by Shydi Evans and Damian Johnson, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Shydi Music Publishing/Dizz Music Publishing (ASCAP), arranged by Michael Melvoin
“Ride Of Your Life,” written by Mario Van Peebles, published my PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Oh Yeah, Inc. (ASCAP), performed by Vesta, produced by Michael Eckart, additional production by Phillip Biff Vincent, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
“Ride Of Your Life (Instrumental Version),” written by Mario Van Peebles, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Oh Yeah, Inc. (ASCAP), arranged by Michael Melvoin
“Free At Last,” written by David Baerwald and David Ricketts, published my PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Zen of Iniquity/Almo Music Corp./48/11 Music (ASCAP), performed by David + David, produced by David Ricketts, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
“Tell Me,” written by Vesta and Louis Russell, published by Vesta Seven Music/Almo Music Corp./Louis Russell Publishing (ASCAP), performed by Vesta, produced by Michael Eckart & Vesta, additional production by Phillip Biff Vincent, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
“Cruel Jim Crow (Posse Don’t Play That),” written by Melvin Van Peebles, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Yeah Music, Inc. (ASCAP), performed by Melvin Van Peebles, produced by Melvin Van Peebles, co-produced by William “Spaceman” Patterson
“Free At Last (Variations),” written by David Baerwald and David Ricketts, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Zen of Iniquity/Almo Music Corp./48/11 Music (ASCAP), performed and produced by David Ricketts, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
“Let That Hammer Fall,” written by Aaron Neville, Art Neville, Charles Neville and Cyril Neville, published by Apache Red Music/Neville Music, administered by Irving Music, Inc. (BMI), performed by The Neville Brothers, produced by Cyril Neville and Aaron Neville, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
“If I Knew You At All,” written by Joseph Vitarelli, published by Songs of PolyGram International, Inc./Vitarelli Music Group (BMI), performed by Salli Richardson, produced by Joseph Vitarelli
“The Posse (Shoot ‘Em Up),” written by Percy Chapman and Raul Santiago, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc. (ASCAP)/Copyright Control, performed by Intelligent Hoodlum, produced by Mr. Freaknasty for Phat Katz Productions, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
“Freemanville (Homecoming),” written by Gary D. Hines, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./New Perspective Publishing (ASCAP), performed by The Sounds of Blackness, produced by Gary D. Hines, executive producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, courtesy of Perspective Records
“I Think To Myself,” written by Mike Fields and John Preziosa, published by Color Me Blind Music, administered by Almo Music Corp. (ASCAP), performed by Top Choice Clique, produced by M. C. Force (The Sorcerer), co-produced by Nuno Bettencourt (The Human Sampler), courtesy of A&M Records
“Posse Love,” written by A. Smith and M. Walk, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc./Loc’ed Out Music (ASCAP), performed by Tone Lō
c, produced by A. Smith and M. Walk, courtesy of Delicious Vinyl.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 May 1993
Premiere Information:
San Francisco Film Festival screening: 5 May 1993
Los Angeles premiere: 12 May 1993
Los Angeles and New York openings: 14 May 1993
Production Date:
began mid October 1992
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
112
Length(in feet):
9,960
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, Netherlands, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1898 Cuba, Buffalo soldier Jessie Lee leads the African-American unit of the U.S. 10th Cavalry during the Spanish-American War. As the troop is bombarded by enemy attacks, the smug, racist Colonel Graham sends Jessie on an undercover mission to raid an ammunition supply behind enemy lines. Accompanied by Obobo, Angel, Weezie, and a white prisoner named “Little J,” Jessie ambushes the Spanish camp and confiscates a crate of gold. Upon their return, however, they discover that Colonel Graham used the mission to frame them as deserters and have them killed. A shootout ensues, and Jessie’s men leave the colonel and the rest of the cavalry for dead. At Weezie’s suggestion, the men climb into the cedar coffins of their fallen comrades and stow away on a ship headed back to the U.S. Once they reach New Orleans, Louisiana, Jessie plans to continue his journey alone, while Obobo, Weezie, Angel, and Little J spend the evening at a local brothel. Little J joins a poker game and offers to partner with a skilled gambler known as “Father Time.” Suddenly, Colonel Graham and his men arrive, having survived the shootout in Cuba, and open fire. Angel is killed, while the rest of the men narrowly escape. In the morning, they come across a “Wanted” advertisement labeling them as a “Posse of Outlaws,” and reunite with Jessie on his journey West. Eventually, they reach a small town, where Jessie recruits a blacksmith to cast a set of gold bullets, which he uses to kill several enemies from his past. As Colonel Graham arrives on the next train, the Posse flees toward Cutterstown using a shortcut through Sioux Indian territory. In the ... +


In 1898 Cuba, Buffalo soldier Jessie Lee leads the African-American unit of the U.S. 10th Cavalry during the Spanish-American War. As the troop is bombarded by enemy attacks, the smug, racist Colonel Graham sends Jessie on an undercover mission to raid an ammunition supply behind enemy lines. Accompanied by Obobo, Angel, Weezie, and a white prisoner named “Little J,” Jessie ambushes the Spanish camp and confiscates a crate of gold. Upon their return, however, they discover that Colonel Graham used the mission to frame them as deserters and have them killed. A shootout ensues, and Jessie’s men leave the colonel and the rest of the cavalry for dead. At Weezie’s suggestion, the men climb into the cedar coffins of their fallen comrades and stow away on a ship headed back to the U.S. Once they reach New Orleans, Louisiana, Jessie plans to continue his journey alone, while Obobo, Weezie, Angel, and Little J spend the evening at a local brothel. Little J joins a poker game and offers to partner with a skilled gambler known as “Father Time.” Suddenly, Colonel Graham and his men arrive, having survived the shootout in Cuba, and open fire. Angel is killed, while the rest of the men narrowly escape. In the morning, they come across a “Wanted” advertisement labeling them as a “Posse of Outlaws,” and reunite with Jessie on his journey West. Eventually, they reach a small town, where Jessie recruits a blacksmith to cast a set of gold bullets, which he uses to kill several enemies from his past. As Colonel Graham arrives on the next train, the Posse flees toward Cutterstown using a shortcut through Sioux Indian territory. In the desert, they encounter the body of a camper, apparently dead from thirst. Jessie notices the camper clutches a poster for Freemanville, an all-black settlement that Jessie’s preacher father attempted to build many years earlier. Although members of the Ku Klux Klan burned it down and lynched his father, Jessie discovers that the town has since been rebuilt. In the saloon, Jessie reunites with his friend, Carver, now the sheriff, and Lana, his former lover. Hurt that Jessie never wrote to her during his time in the army, Lana has agreed to marry Carver. Later that night, however, she and Jessie rekindle their romance. As they make love, the ruthless Sheriff Bates of Cutterstown barges into the Freemanville saloon demanding the outlaw turn himself over. Sheriff Bates beats Little J to death for defending Weezie, then kidnaps Lana’s father, Papa Joe. Later that night, Jessie and the Posse dress as Klansmen, rescue Pape Joe, and imprison the corrupt Mayor Bigwood. Upon discovering the ruse, Sheriff Bates shoots the mayor and declares himself the new leader of Cutterstown. Moments later, Colonel Graham arrives and suggests they join forces. Back in Freemanville, the townspeople agree that Jessie’s return has put the settlement in even more danger. However, Jessie argues that Bates plans to frame him for Mayor Bigwood’s murder and take over Freemanville in order to profit off the land, which he will sell to the railroad. Although initially hesitant, the townspeople agree to defend themselves when Bates returns. The next afternoon, Jessie leads the Posse and several Freemanville residents in a violent shootout against Sheriff Bates and Colonel Graham. Amid the fighting, Lana catches Carver attempting to flee with the deeds to Freemanville, made out in his name. Although he claims he only wanted to secure their financial future, Sheriff Bates reveals that he and Carver made a deal to split the profits. Bates shoots Carver, but Jessie appears in the doorway and kills Bates with his last gold bullet. Meanwhile, Colonel Graham takes Lana hostage and sets fire to the saloon. He and Jessie fight. The outlaw impales Colonel Graham with a sword and rescues Lana moments before the building explodes. Outside, Jessie, Lana, Obobo, and the other survivors watch as the townspeople put out the blaze. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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