Tells the true story of the the 1970 murder of Henry Marrow in a rural North Carolina town by Robert Teel and his sons, the aftermath of the murder and the eventual acquittal of the Teels by an all white jury, in spite of multiple eye witnesses to the murder.
Natalie Alyn Lind (Boo Tyson), Michael Rooker (Defense attorney Billy Watkins), Emily Alyn Lind (Julie Tyson), Ricky Schroder (Vernon Tyson (as Rick Schroder)), Susan Walters (Martha Tyson), Omar Benson Miller (Herman Cozart), Lela Rochon (Roseanna Allen), Lee Norris (Roger Oakley), Nick Searcy (Robert Teel), Sahr Ngaujah (Boo Chavis), Nate Parker (Ben Chavis), Gattlin Griffith (Tim Tyson), Rhoda Griffis (Isabel Taylor), Gregory Alan Williams (Dr. Samuel Proctor), Milauna Jackson (Willie Mae Marrow), Mike Pniewski (William Burgwyn), Markice Moore (Moses), Cullen Moss (Larry Teel), Darrin Dewitt Henson (Eddie McCoy), Michael May (Gerald Teel), Addy Miller (KKK Picnic Child / 2nd Grade Student), Donna Biscoe (Elizabeth Chavis), Sandra Ellis Lafferty (Grandma Jessie), Afemo Omilami (Golden Frinks), E. Roger Mitchell (William Burgwyn)...
Mel Efros (producer), Patricia Gould (associate producer), Rick King (associate producer / co-producer), David Steen Martin (co-producer (as David Martin)), Jeb Stuart (producer), Mari Stuart (producer)
Historians hate Hollywood. Movie makers see history merely as a backdrop for their tales of hard-boiled cops and boys-meet-girls. Historians of the civil rights movement wince harder than most. On the rare occasions when Hollywood turns to the subject matter on race relations in the South,we get the Good White Folks versus the Bad White Folks,with black Southerners portrayed as soulful,hymn-singing props and second hand characters. This has been portrayed in dozens of movies that focus on race relations in the South during the height of the civil rights movement.
"Blood Done Sign My Name" is based on the award winning acclaim novel by Tim Tyson,who is currently a research scholar at the Center of Documentary Studies at Duke University in Durham,North Carolina. As an 11-year old kid in segregated Oxford,North Carolina,Tyson witnessed the turbulant aftermath of Henry Marrow's death and the racial tensions that exploded within the town. Tim's father,the Reverend Vernon Tyson,was a Methodist minister in Oxford whose efforts to foster racial integration from the pulpit were met with strong resistance by parishioners and townsfolk alike. Writer and director Jeb Stuart,famed for "Die Hard",and "The Fugitive" made the movie based on Tyson's novel which was filmed on locations in several cities in North Carolina(Shelby,Gastonia,Statesville,but not Oxford interestingly)and gives a splendid backdrop on the events that occur within this small town and the tensions the exploded on that faithful day in 1970. Stuart retools Tyson's sweeping history into a two-part narrative. The first half of the movie is more personal focusing on Rev. Tyson(Rick Schroder)and his family's move to Oxford;the second half of the film focuses on Marrow's murder,the racial incidents that occurred(which included the freedom march along Highway 15 towards Raleigh where Marrow's widow along with activist Goldie Frinks and Ben Chavis lead a march to request help from Governor Scott at the state Capitol),the trial of the three men who did the killing and the subsequent unrest that followed.
"Blood" has several striking white characters. The good side includes Tim's loyal and Christian parents,and the community that turn their back on him and his family,while the other side deals with the coming of the black community and the outrage that followed within the town. It also show how a divided African American community in segregated Oxford,North Carolina in 1970 pulled together after the senseless and public killing of Henry Marrow(a young man who came home from the Vietnam War was now a veteran who is shot and killed for no apparent reason from Robert Teel and his sons)and changed their own history forever. Some organized boycotts,other threw firebombs while others looted and pillaged the town including scenes of where others torched and burned down the tobacco warehouses throughout the town. One local high school teacher,Ben Chavis(Nate Parker of The Great Debaters),who was also a local businessman and future civil rights activist stood against the injustices in Oxford and did what he thought was right. The cast varies in quality from actors ranging from Lela Rochon to Michael Rooker,and A.C. Sanford not to mention cameo appearances from not only Tim Tyson and his father Vernon Tyson but also from the late historian John Hope Franklin.
"Blood Done Sign My Name" unfolds two years after the assassination of Martin Luther King,Jr. in an America wracked by riots and divided by the "Southern strategy" that lifted Richard Nixon on the flood tide of white backlash and also at a time when the Vietnam War escalated out of control. Yes,Jim Crow was still visible in 1970 too in certain cities in the South where segregation was still rampant,and it was that way in the small town of Oxford,North Carolina(in the central part of the state in Granville County 50 miles from Raleigh,the state capitol)and it is still that way today. "Blood" stands on the same ground as other films that depict the South too("To Kill A Mockingbird","Nothing But A Man","Black Like Me","In The Heat Of The Night","Tick,Tick,Tick", and "Mississippi Burning") All the de rigueur genre tropes-from the Klan rally,the bigoted church members,and sadistic and racist sheriff,the trigger happy cops,the sporadic N-word-pop up on cue along with some violent content in some scenes. It sounds like a documentary,but it is not. This is movie with some grand performances to look at,but it has become one of the surprise films of the year.
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