I’m not exactly
sure why Richard Pryor’s 1982 Paramount film, “Some Kind of Hero,” rarely gets mentioned,
if it’s even remembered at all. Granted it’s not perfect, and it suffers from inconsistent
shifts in tone, but it’s never less than interesting, and provides Pryor with one
of his more fascinating characters. Although it was compromised in the studio process.
gave Pryor some opportunities to explore his acting chops, and one feels that if
the studio hadn’t gotten so chicken about the film, it might have been regarded
as one of Pryor’s best.
Michael Pressman, Pryor plays a soldier fighting in the Vietnam War in the 1970’s
who is captured by the Viet Cong, and winds up being a prisoner of war for
several years. After returning to the States, he’s hailed as a war hero by the pubic and the media, but finds that he cannot adjust to life back home. Even worse, his wife has left him for another man, his mother is ill, and he can’t find of a job, despite being
an American hero and all that.
person he meets who his sympathetic to his plight is a hooker played by Margot Kidder; eventually, they have an affair. And later, in desperation, Pryor turns to
a life of crime, only to run afoul of the mob, who plan to double cross him.
The film was reportedly intended to be a straight drama, but once Pryor signed on to play the lead, the studio then insisted that more comedy bits be added; understandable, giving that Pryor was
then perhaps the biggest comedy star in the movies at that time.
result short changes the film, and what could have been a serious, penetrating character
study of a black man trying to find his place in the world, gets undercut by the
comedy bits. Admittedly, some of the comedy is funny (how could it not
be, with one of the greatest comedy geniuses ever), but sometimes the fit isn’t all that convincing.
Yesterday, Olive Films announced that they will be releasing “Some Kind of
Hero” for the first time on blu-ray and DVD in September – one of several black films
that the label will also be releasing that month.
But how obscure
is “Some Kind of Hero”? All I could find was a very short 30 second trailer, which is
not great, as well as a film clip with the first 3 minutes of the film, although with a Russian
narration. So between the two I picked the Russian clip.