Sweet Jesus, Preacherman (1973)

Holmes (Roger Mosley) is a hired gun for a Los Angeles mobster. After doing away with three targets, he finds that his boss Martelli (William Smith) is not too happy because one of the kills involved one of his company's trucks. None-the-less, he still has another assignment for Holmes: take on the identity of Reverend Lee and gain the trust of the people in the ghetto so Martelli can keep his supply of drugs flowing in the area.

Holmes is reluctant at first, but soon takes to the role - so much that he, himself, becomes a community leader, getting the attention of State Senator Sills (Michael Pataki), who happens to be white, but has this particular district falling into his representation. Sills is none too popular, but Martelli sees business continuing as usual if he continues in office, so Holmes does his best to boost Sills's popularity in the area. It also doesn't hurt that he's starting to fall for Sills's assistant Beverly (Marla Gibbs).

As the double life starts to take its toll and Holmes begins to care more about fulfilling his role as a community leader, Martelli gets nervous. Compounding fears is a group of black militants that are killing off drug dealers and pimps in the area in their own attempt to clean it up. Things reach a tipping point when two youths are killed by police after leaving a church function. Holmes, also knowing that one of the men he killed was a preacher that was negotiating a community reform package, works this out so that Sills appears to be the hero for starting an investigation into the shootings, working out a deal where he now receives kickbacks from the reform project.

The upside for Holmes is that allows him to take over Martelli's business and funnel the money through the church. The downside is Martelli is not happy, and there is now a price on Holmes's head.

Confused a bit? Well, I simplified things. Mosley's performance is great, and all around the movie is enjoyable, but it is confusing as hell. At one point it seems Holmes wants to clean up the community, but then he starts filtering drugs through the church - but he somehow gains the trust of the same people that are violently killing off Martelli's men. That, and after the [i]Scarface[/i]-like finish, things are left open for a sequel that never happened, thus leaving the viewer unsatisfied. It is a shame, because largely this is quite an enjoyable, if forgotten, blaxploitation film.

Sweet Jesus, Preacherman (1973)
Duration: 103 minutes
Starring: Roger Mosley, William Smith, Michael Pataki, Marla Gibbs
Director: Henning Schellerup


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