March 5, 2016


Filed under: film as subversive art,Jeremy Vearey — ABRAXAS @ 12:25 pm


In 1988 while awaiting trial on terrorism charges, the Fighting Fifteen were permitted use of ex-President Mandela’s 16mm projector and allowed to order movies from a b-grade film catalogue from the early 1970’s. The exception was when we had the privilege of watching Mandela’s copy of Bertolucci’s ‘The Last Emperor’ before it was even released in South African cinemas.

But this was for the more discerning revolutionary palate. Let’s get back to the 1970’s catalogue of spaghetti westerns like ‘For a few dollars more’, flying kungfu warriors of ‘Lady Whirlwind’, bodice-ripping love stories like ‘Tess’, gangland gunfests like ‘Zebra Force’, and very risqué sexfests such as “The Postman Always Rings Twice’. Sundays were Fighting Fifteen movie days and after supper at three in the afternoon our communal cell became Ster Kinekor.

While most movies could be subjected to critical political discussion as a means of political education there were some that lent itself well to revolutionary interpretation. In this regard, Clint Eastwood could be the lone revolutionary who fights landowners and corrupt sherrifs in defence of landless peasants and Lady Whirlwind a one woman flying feminist battling chauvinistic Chinese feudal oppression. In the same revolutionary imaginary the Zebra force became an guerrilla army against the organised Mafia lumpen criminal bourgeoisie, and the working class “Postman” a defiant sexual revolutionary who broke class boundaries when he seduces a petit bourgeois housewife in her middle class suburb.


However, “Lola Colt” aka ‘Lola Baby’ barely fitted this revolutionary bill. The lead role in this 1967 spaghetti western featured black actress Lola Falana as Lola Colt, a saloon dancer who arrives in the town of Santa Anna with her traveling dance ensemble. However the town is ruled by El Diablo, an outlaw who wants to force people of the town to sell their land to a railroad company. Lola and her much younger white lover Rod, then organises the people of the town to fight this monopoly capitalist land expropriation incursion and ultimately defeats the imperialists. Lola Baby solves the land question!

Unfortunately, most of us missed this plot entirely because of numerous script and plot distractions. Apart from Lola wearing only a see-through nightie with cameltoe exposing undergarments throughout most of the movie, its action scenes were beyond the limits of amateur filmmaking with villains falling from buildings before they are shot and dying despite arrows clearly bouncing off them. Let alone Lola playing Ramsey Lewis and contemporary jazz fusion music on a saloon honkytonk piano in the 1800’s. Maybe ‘Lola Baby’ was actually intended as a pornmovie that had been severely edited for public release on the open movie circuit.


Nonetheless, in the controversial reaction to this movie that ended up being watched an unhealthy many times, we were divided on its revolutionary relevance. In the one camp there was the younger Niclo Pedro and others whose movie choice this was who could point to its revolutionary content, and in the other more conservative camp, those of us who felt its poor form distracted from whatever revolutionary content it had. However, what most of us agreed on was that Lola Falana was a one well-developed and well-rounded acting talent.

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