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Interviews With Larner and O'Neal


We'd stop when we ran out of stock we fought, we argued, we went through many trials. It was that kind of scene. We completed the film, and the next thing I knew Warner Brothers had picked it up.

Q: Sig Show was the only white in creative credits. How involved was he in the film?

A. The film would never have been possible without him. He did directing mostly edited the film.

Q: Were there any political arguments and the others.

A Not political if Sig and I or Phal or Gorden disputed anything, it would be whether the film was commercial or not. We learned something from him--he's been in the business 25 years you know. On the other hand we pulled him into come ideas that with his formula-ridden thinking he didn't think would work.

For instance the relationship between the white girl and Priest. I would hope that when you saw the trim there wasn't anything offensive about the relationship It would have been eass to put the white girl down strangely enough I was on her side. You see rust because it was a black him they wanted to do the same thing to that girl as is traditionally tone to black women in white films we came to a sort of compromise she still something to be avoided. but an interesting not offensive person who does love Priest It's the Upper East Side world she movies in that stinks for tam.

Q: will Super Fly be followed up?

A There's a very strong possibility. And a sequel has very potential of being a better film than Super Fly. We've established our base from which he can mature we don't known what his fullness would be. But there must be a deepening' Super grows which is why he's different from the black film characters.

Q: What other different are there between him and the others?

A I think anyone can agree intellectually with a man who wants to give up dope peddling and get out of the ghetto And the plan he comes up with is quite clever I think You know, a lot of people think the black community is without intellect.

Q: You seem to think of Priest as some kind of existential hero.

A: Well...the trouble is that this is such an insane country that Priest is really a very common person, at lest from the outside. A ghetto is an artificial situation, like a laboratory. You take away so many things, and crowd the people in so, that they do the strangest things.

Q: The film, according to the press hand-outs, was financed by a host of ghetto figures from "pushers to dentists, from madams to businessmen."

A: There's some truth in that. Primarily the film was financed by two black dentists. We received money from others in small amounts, when we were desperate, from various other people.

Q: Did you have any trouble with New York City unions

A: We had no trouble, but I have no sympathy with unions. They've never done a thing for me. All they do is take dues, and make things expensive to do.

Q: If Super Fly now relates directly to people in the ghetto how are you going to keep that link as he grows' How would he relate to the black community.'

A: Simply by helping black people in his own way. Which is something he never did before actively. He's not one for waving flags or marching or to picket or sit in and that sort of thing. He's a bon. He doesn't move except with great passion.

Q: Do you as an artist feel a responsibility to participate in ventures which would aid the black community?

A: I taught theater in Harlem for two year's that's something I put my all behind. On the other hand I don't think most Americans understand about polities either. The deals of politics are made over bowls of calm chowder at Howard Johnson's By the time it gets disseminated to us through the papers thought the Vietnam War it's Big Brother time.

Neither Nixon nor McGovern is probably going to match for 125th Street.

But I don't understand why people care what actors think about politicians. It tells you something about the American political system that people care that John Wayne votes for President Nixon. It can't be a very sophisticated system. Now, I thought Adlai Setvenson was a bright man.

Q: This all says something about culture affecting politics as well People who ride the range with John Wayne might have fantasies to jibe with Nixon promises.

A: Look, the blacks are victims of the much larger problem of America today. We've actually become quite handy to some whites, and most blacks could stay up late dreaming about whites plotting against them. Actually if it wasn't us it would be somebody else. The machine keeps grinding.

Q: Just as you said it was important for blacks to have the some cultural whacks as a white macho, wouldn't you want, say, Ron O'Neal to have the same kind of political voice as John Wayne, by the same reasoning.

A: I'm apparently already there, whether I like it or not. But what the artist should do is define the ethics of a society. For me, at this point, the Vietnam War carries with it many more moral than political issues. Super Fly is a philosophic moral film.

You know, politics as a subject with black people is a very interesting phenomenon. The Black Caucus isn't endorsing anyone. It doesn't concern us We're still building the Black side. Which ever side it is I'm interested in any film which brings hope, encouragement, enlightenment, pride and warmth or any of the human qualities. That's all being black is in this country, being a person is--a country determined that you're never going to be a person. Blacks have to cut against the worst kind of stereotyping.

If change comes anywhere, it will, come in New York. If someone bumps me on a New York City subway, I know it's not because I'm black, but because my feet are the big. And individuals can move up quickly in the City. It's an arena; and the only problem the block man has is that his sword is slightly shorter, and the edge of the sword is not as sharp. That means you have to have to have a tougher arm.

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