Before he directed smash-hit action films like “The Fugitive,” “Under Siege” and “Collateral Damage,” director Andrew Davis got his start with something quite different, making his debut with the raw and real 1978 R&B-powered musical drama “Stony Island.”
Filmed in a verité style on Chicago’s South Side, the film stars Richie Davis playing Richie Bloom, a white kid in a largely black neighborhood who teams up with his best pal Kevin (Edward “Stony” Robinson) to form an R&B supergroup. Getting all the pieces, they are guided by a mentor, the sax legend Percy (Gene “Daddy G” Barge) as they rehearse in a local funeral home, and battle the odds to make their debut. Capturing the city with an almost documentary-like feel, the film is rounded out by an intriguing cast that includes a young Dennis Franz, Susanna Hoffs (who would later become a member of The Bangles), Rae Dawn Chong and many more. And oh yeah, James Brown‘s former band leader and all around industry legend David Matthews scored the film.
But as you might have gleaned from the above, perhaps the most intriguing element of the movie (aside from it’s solid musical foundation and strong cast) was how it crossed a color line that was rarely breached back then. In advance of the film’s release, we’re proud to present an exclusive clip of Public Enemy frontman Chuck D talking about the importance of Davis’ film, and how it tackled the issue of race and music.
Hard to find since its small, initial theatrical run, the movie is now coming back to theaters for a limited engagement at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago on April 4th & 5th, and in Los Angeles at the American Cinematheque on April 24th. And if you’re not in those cities, not to worry, as Cinema Libre is finally giving it a DVD and digital release on April 24th as well. Check out the clip below.