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Film / Posse

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Posse is a 1993 American Western film directed by and starring Mario Van Peebles.

Featuring a large ensemble cast of mostly African-American actors, the film is about a posse of black soldiers led by Jessie Lee (Van Peebles) and one ostracized white soldier called Little J (Stephen Baldwin), all of whom are betrayed by a corrupt colonel (Billy Zane). The story starts with the group escaping with a cache of gold, and continues with Jesse Lee taking revenge on the men who killed his preacher father.

The film is notable for being the first film released by Gramercy Pictures, who would later go on to shut down several years later after suffering from bomb after bomb after bomb, then revive in 2015, only to be shut down mere months later after the same things happened to the company.

Not to be confused with the 1975 Kirk Douglas film of the same title.

Posse contains examples of:

  • Artistic License – Law: Even in 1898, a judge could not sentence a defendant to enlistment in the army for life.
  • The Big Guy: The hulking Obobobo; played by Tiny Lister. He is undoubtedly the strongest and physically toughest member of the eponymous posse.
  • Colonel Badass: Colonel Graham is an evil version of this. After Jesse and his posse steal what he regards as his gold, Graham leads a personal army across the west in pursuit, determined to extract his vengeance in a bloody and hands-on fashion.
  • Delayed Narrator Introduction: Begins with the elderly onscreen narrator (famous black actor Woody Strode). In the final scene, at the black village, Jesse gives a little boy his book. Cut back to the narrator, reading from that book.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Jesse Lee has some of the stolen gold recast into golden bullets to use on his father's killers. Father Time explains that, according to New Orleans voodoo ladies, gold is the only way to kill a demon. In Jesse's case, the demons are symbolic rather than actual.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Jesse and Father Time pose as a members of The Klan to rescue Papa Joe and Obobo.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Colonel Graham sports an eyepatch after losing his eye in his attempted ambush of the 10th.
  • The Klan: When Papa Joe and Obobo are arrested, the Ku Klux Klan plans to storm the jail and lynch them. They are rescued by Jesse and Father Time Dressing as the Enemy.
  • Moe Greene Special: Colonel Graham loses an eye when his ambush of the 10th goes wrong.
  • Posse: Despite being the movie title, and them calling themselves this, our heroes aren't legally a posse, as they have not been deputized by someone who has that power. (However, it does fit the modern slang term of an entourage or group of friends.)
  • Professional Gambler: Father Time, who joins the posse in New Orleans and is the only member who was not originally part of the 10th.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Jesse Lee carves a bloody path across the west, hunting down the men who killed his father.
  • Showdown at High Noon: Posse has a scene where the two combatants advance slowly, attacking with Throw-Away Guns.
  • Throw-Away Guns: During the climatic Showdown at High Noon, Jesse and Colonel Graham advance slowly towards each other, discarding their guns as they empty them.
  • Token White: Little J is the only white man in the otherwise all-black posse.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Jesse Lee was sentenced by a judge to lifetime enlistment in the Army.
  • William Telling: When Jesse is ordered to execute a prisoner, he instead demonstrates his marksmanship by shooting the prisoner's cigar out of his mouth.