A Gathering of Old Men (1987)

Rated PG

Starring: Louis Gossett, Jr., Holly Hunter, Richard Widmark and Joe Seneca

Rated: PG Drama

Based on the best-selling 1983 novel by Ernest J. Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men is a film centered upon racial discrimination, justice and loyalty.

Set in rural Louisiana during the 1970s, it opens with the discovery of the body of Beau Boutan (Richard Whaley), a racist Cajun farmer, by Candy Marshall (Holly Hunter), a sugarcane plantation owner.  His corpse lying in the yard of the elderly Mathu (Louis Gossett, Jr.), a Black sharecropper, will bring more problems than a typical homicide, as Boutan was White.

Having been close to Mathu since she was a little girl, Candy quickly convinces seventeen other elderly Black men to come to Mathu’s house.  Because she knows that Boutan was killed by a shotgun, Candy has them each bring a shotgun and one empty #5 shell.  Accordingly, she does the same and when Sheriff Mapes (Richard Widmark) arrives at Mathu’s home to arrest the murderer of Beau, Candy and all the men claim to have killed him. 

Adding to the suspense are Fix Boutan (Stocker Fontelieu), who wants revenge on whoever murdered his son; Gil (Adam Storke), Beau’s younger brother and a star football player at Louisiana State University who is not racist like his family members; Lou Dimes (Will Patton), Candy’s mild-mannered beau; and Clatoo (Joe Seneca), who like Mathu, stands up against the racism and terrorism of the Boutan clan.

Will the truth behind the murder of Beau Boutan be discovered and at what costs?  Viewers must tune in to this drama to find out!

Directed by celebrated German director Volker Schlondorff, A Gathering of Old Men remained true to its eponymous novel, also known as Murder on the Bayou, by Gaines.  Initially, screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the official selection at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, A Gathering of Old Men was well-received by critics and viewing audiences.  For his stellar portrayal of Mathu, Louis Gossett, Jr. was nominated for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special” Emmy Award