Cornbread, Earl and Me (1974) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Joseph Manduke
Starring: Moses Gunn, Rosalind Cash, Bernie Casey
Rated: PG/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Olive Films
Set against the gritty urban sprawl of Chicago, director Joseph Manduke’s (Vengeance) coming-of-age drama Cornbread, Earl and Me stars Laurence Fishburne (Fled), Tierre Turner (The Crow) and Jamaal Wilkes in a story of adolescent friends who are forced to face adulthood when tragedy strikes. Cornbread, Earl and Me features supporting performances from an ensemble that includes Moses Gunn (Ragtime), Rosalind Cash (The Omega Man), Madge Sinclair (Coming to America) and Antonio Fargas (Foxy Brown) in a film written for the screen by Leonard Lamensdorf based on the Ronald L. Fair novel Hog Butcher.
They killed Cornbread! They Killed Cornbread! He didn’t do nothin’! Ah yes, the quote from perhaps the most iconic scene in Cornbread, Earl, and Me that might seem like a spoiler if you’ve never seen the film, but it gets spoiled anyway if you dare read the plot or watch the retro trailer. Of course, the fallout from the death of Cornbread is the main point of this film. You’d think early on if you didn’t know better that the movie would be about the inner city activity of the two kids (one a young Laurence Fishburne) and their pal Cornbread. Cornbread is a likable dude that everyone loves and he’s probably going to be a big-time basketball star. He beats up drug dealers, the kids look up to him, and even the adults like him. The story is a mostly happy go lucky kind of flick early on until he’s killed by mistake by the local police when they are chasing after another guy who favors Cornbread. From there on out it becomes more of a race issue and while an important issue it also seems to take some of the fun out of the movie overall.
But the movie does pack the iconic scene of a child running around in a busy street with a downpour happening as he is yelling of the wrongdoing of what happened to Cornbread. The social commentary is there and relevant, but even I gotta admit you can see where the mistake came from seeing as how Cornbread just so happened to be wearing the exact same thing as the guy he’s mixed up with and looked an awful lot like him. Not to mention, it WAS happening during a downpour. Ah, you gotta love 1974 cinema! And if you do Olive gives you a very nice looking release for Cornbread, Earl, and Me. I’m not sure of the re-watch value but a good once over with this one isn’t too much to ask. I had seen the trailer for this before on some Grindhouse trailer comps and was always a bit curious about it. Cornbread was more the arch to the story than the actual story and that did shock me a bit, but it boils down to a good enough drama to its credit. Again, you just are kinda left wishing that Olive would give us more extras on their releases. Or in this case at least SOME sorta extra besides a trailer.