Starring: Max Julien, Vonetta McGee, George Murdock and Juanita Moore
Rated: PG Action, Crime, Western
Set in the American South circa 1911, this film is centered upon lovers, J.P. Bushrod (Max Julien) and Thomasine (Vonetta McGee). Both are disgusted at the rampant exploitation by Whites who are wealthy capitalists and those who corrupt the law.
Determined to get justice and revenge, the Black couple take matters into their own hands. They plan and execute over the next several years a series of robberies from established banking institutions, including Wells Fargo and Wingate Bank.
Their success leads them to be wanted for murder and bank robbing, with posters offering $1,000.00 for the capture of Thomasine and Bushrod, dead or alive. One person in particular who wants them is U.S. Marshal Bogardie (George Murdock). Many factors drive his hatred for the couple. These include lust for the beautiful and bright Thomasine as well as jealousy and fear of Bushrod. Handsome and brave, the thief is also bold, even sporting a multi-colored, scarlet cape, with a large cerulean blue and white bullseye emblazoned on its back, during a robbery!
Their bravado makes them legendary. However, what assists Thomasine and Bushrod the most in remaining uncaptured for any lengthy period of time is their generosity, as they do not keep all the booty to themselves. As the law notices announce, the outlaws are “known to have many friends among Indians, Mexicans, Poor Whites and other Colored People.” These supporters include Pecolia (Juanita Moore) and Jomo J. Anderson (Glynn Turman).
Viewers will want to see how it turns out for Thomasine and Bushrod!
Written and co-produced by Max Julien, Thomasine and Bushrod was directed by Gordon Parks, Jr. Both men had incredible success with films that have since become iconic in the Blaxploitation Era: Parks, Jr. directed Superfly (1972) and Julien starred as “Goldie” in The Mack (1973).
Julien created the tale of Thomasine and Bushrod to be a Black counterpart to Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the latter film was based upon real-life, bank-robbing couple, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Both thieves were White.
Distributed by Columbia Pictures, this film has become a cult classic to those who love Blaxploitation films and westerns. Its title song, “Thomasine and Bushrod”, was performed by the group Love, one of America’s earliest racially-diverse funk, psychedelic and rock bands. The group was led by African-American singer and songwriter, Arthur Lee. He composed and sang lead on the title track for the motion picture. “Thomasine and Bushrod” is featured as a bonus on Love’s LP, Black Beauty.