Free, White and 21
|Free. White and 21|
|Directed by||Larry Buchanan|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
Free, White and 21 is a 1963 movie by self-proclaimed "schlockmeister", Larry Buchanan. It was based on the true story of the controversial trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman in Dallas, Texas in the 1960s.
The title is a version of the archaic American idiomatic phrase "free, white, and twenty-one" which means "beholden to no one".
The central conflict in this film is whether African-American businessman Ernie Jones (played by Frederick O'Neal) raped Swedish immigrant and civil rights Freedom Rider Greta Mae Hansen (played by Annalena Lund). Jones was the proprietor of the hotel at which Hansen decided to stay during her time in Dallas. The movie is primarily a courtroom drama, with many of the key events portrayed in flashback sequences as Ernie Jones and Greta Mae Hansen testify.
The movie was based on a true story about an English girl who stayed at a motel owned by a black man Tony Davis, who was a disc jockey. She later claimed Davis raped her and he was arrested. Davis was a friend of Buchanan and agreed to work with him on the film even before the trial finished.
Before the film was finished Buchanan showed an assembly cut to James H Nicholson and Sam Arkoff of American International Pictures who agreed to distribute.
The film was released with the gimmick of having the audiences act as a jury and be given ballot papers to mark deciding whether the accused was innocent or guilty. The movie was successful at the box office and led to a series of collaborations between Buchanan and AIP.
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p237
- Goodsell, Greg, "The Weird and Wacky World of Larry Buchanan", Filmfax, No. 38 April/May 1993 p 63
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