The movie poster for Panther.
|Directed by||Mario Van Peebles|
|Produced by||Preston L. Holmes
Mario Van Peebles
Melvin Van Peebles
|Screenplay by||Melvin Van Peebles|
|Based on||Panther by Melvin Van Peebles|
Joe Don Baker
Courtney B. Vance
M. Emmet Walsh
|Music by||Stanley Clarke|
|Cinematography||Edward J. Pei|
|Edited by||Earl Watson|
|Distributed by||Gramercy Pictures|
Panther is a 1995 film directed by Mario Van Peebles, from a screenplay adapted by his father, Melvin Van Peebles, from his novel of the same name. The film portrays the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, tracing the organization from its founding through its decline in a compressed timeframe. Creative license is taken but the general trajectory of the Party and its experiences is factual.
The film is notable for its strong cast: including US actors Angela Bassett, Chris Tucker, Bobby Brown and Chris Rock, who later became prominent in film and TV. Critics noted the strong resemblance of Marcus Chong to the historical figure, Huey P. Newton, whom he played.
The film focuses on the rise and decline of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, known as the Black Panthers, during the era of Black Power and disenchantment with passive resistance as a tool in the civil rights movement. It explores the FBI's COINTELPRO program, which was a farflung effort to track and disrupt African-American political movements.
The drama alleges that various Mob networks cooperated directly with U.S. intelligence (FBI/CIA) agency representatives to "flood" inner-city ghettos, which contained majority black populations, with hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine. The ending's structure and concluding voice-over alleges that The Mob (possibly Italian) in the United States agreed to produce and distribute quantities of these types of drugs on an unprecedentedly large scale. Purportedly, only agreed-upon "problem areas" of Black Panthers' potential support would be targeted, so as to "pacify" those populations.
The movies further suggests that the huge quantities of drugs quickly spilled out of the "problem areas" and became the drug epidemic in the U.S. of the 1980s and 1990s. The final lines shown in the film's closing note that in the 1970s, there were hundreds of thousands of hard-drug addicts, a number that had increased to the "3 million" of "yesterday". It is dedicated to the Black Panther Party's main figures, the communities that supported them, and those who might continue the struggle today.
- Kadeem Hardison as Judge
- Wesley Jonathan as Bobby Hutton
- Bokeem Woodbine as Tyrone
- Joe Don Baker as Brimmer
- M. Emmet Walsh as Dorsett
- Courtney B. Vance as Bobby Seale
- Tyrin Turner as Cy
- Marcus Chong as Huey P. Newton
- Anthony Griffith as Eldridge Cleaver
- Chris Rock as Yuck Mouth
- Mario Van Peebles as Stokely Carmichael
- Chris Tucker as Bodyguard
- Bobby Brown as Rose
- Angela Bassett as Betty Shabazz
- Jenifer Lewis as Rita
- Anthony Johnson as Sabu
- Dick Gregory as Reverend Slocum
- Kool Moe Dee as Jamaal
- Lahmard Tate as Gene McKinney
- Roger Guenveur Smith as Pruitt
- Richard Dysart as J. Edgar Hoover
- James Russo as Rodgers
- Nefertiti as Alma
- Jeris Poindexter as Black Cop
- Melvin Van Peebles as Old Jail Bird
A soundtrack containing R&B and hip hop music was released on May 2, 1995, by Mercury Records. It peaked at 37 on the Billboard 200 and 5 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and was certified gold on July 25, 1995. Featured on the soundtrack was the single "Freedom (Theme from Panther)", a collaboration among more than 60 female R&B singers and rappers that peaked at 45 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Reproduction and sales
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