Anyone who’s been a regular reader of S & A knows that I love to to discuss and bring to attention long ago, forgotten films and TV shows that I think may be of interest to our readers, such as The Crowning Experience (HERE), Toxi (HERE and The Outcasts.(HERE)
But as I’ve said before, I like to think that when it comes to black films and the black images on screen, how do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been? So I intend to keep writing about forgotten black films and other pictures of interest, bascially for you to gain some knowledge, because I like to do it, and maybe, hopefully these lost films and TV series will be seen again.
So, for now, let’s deal with the 1974 film Catch My Soul.
Never heard of it? It went in and out of theaters so fast that one didn’t have time to blink. I’ve never even seen the film myself, but I’ve always heard about it and been curious to see it. It’s never been released on DVD or even on VHS, though there might be a bootleg copy of it floating around somewhere
The film is a rock musical version of Othello, with folk singer Richie Havens in the lead, who, in this version, is an evangelist preacher in New Mexico who is led to beliieve that his wife Desdemona is cheating on him by the treacherous Iago. Of course, we all know how the the story ends.
The film was based on a late 60’s London stage production, produced by and starring Jack Good as Othello, who was, at the time, the U.K. version of Dick Clark. Since he was white, of course, we have to assume that he played the role on stage in blackface. Though Good also produced the film version, they wisely got a black man to play the role in the film, although, according to reviews, Havens wasn’t that good in the film.
The film came out at the same time as the director Norman Jewison’s very successful film version of Jesus Christ Superstar, so there were hopes that the film would follow in Supertsar’s footsteps. However bad reviews and lackluster box office pretty much killed it.
The film was later retitled Santa Fe Satan and released in drive-ins, but still it did no business.
What’s also interesting is that the film was the only one directed by actor Patrick McGoohan, who is better known for his roles films like Ice Station Zebra, Bravehaert, A Time to Kill, and most famously, in the TV cult classic The Prisoner which he also created and produced
However, as a director McGoohan might have been somewhat lacking. I recall seeing a TV interview many years ago with Havens in which he briefly talked about the film and said that McGoohan wasn’t a great communicator and was always vague about what he exactly wanted from his actors.
McGooghan, for his part, later laid the blame of Good claiming that he “got religion’ during the making of the film coverting to Catholicism and recut the film adding “more religious stuff”.. McGoohan said that when he saw the final result, the film was “a disaster” and tried to get his name taken off the credits, but to no avail.
Now the film seems to be lost, unseen and nost likely there isn’t even a decent print anywhere around. But it’s a genuine curio and you just never know – it just might pop up one day.