Bookmark(0)

No account yet? Register

Solomon King (1974) trailer
Solomon King (1974) by Sal Watts.

Los Angeles-based arthouse genre label Deaf Crocodile released a new trailer of their restoration of the lost, independently financed Black action crime film Solomon King (1974), from writer/director/actor/producer Sal Watts.

Recently announced as a selection of the 2022 Fantastic Fest, the restored film will world premiere there next month before continuing on to further festivals around the globe and distribution from Deaf Crocodile beginning in late 2022.

Shot in Oakland, CA in 1973 with a cast of mostly non-professional actors, Solomon King is a remarkable capsule of its time with a fantastic Soul-Funk soundtrack and incredible clothes from Watts’ own Mr. Sal’s Fashion Stores. The film has been restored with the cooperation of the filmmaker’s widow, Belinda Burton-Watts (who appears in the film), and utilizing one of the only surviving complete prints from the UCLA Film & TV Archive, as well as original soundtrack elements (which had been stored in Burton-Watts’ closet for several decades).

“I had been praying that my husband’s accomplishments would not go unnoticed but as the saying goes justice delayed is not always justice denied,” comments Belinda Burton-Watts. “Sal would be so pleased that Dennis Bartok and Craig Rogers of Deaf Crocodile reached out to his family and explored the possibility of restoring this piece of Black history. This film will evoke a nostalgic view of life in the 1970s when so much was happening in the Black community and the world. Oakland, California is no stranger to its share of controversy and unrest. Sal was an extraordinary man who remained humble throughout his life and just wanted equality for all. He loved all people and wanted to live in a world that treated people fairly. He would be grateful to know that his film will see the light of day once more. Much like Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem” where he asks, “What happens to a dream deferred?”, we will have an opportunity to see just that. I choose to believe that like a mustard seed, the dream grows and grows. Through Dennis and Craig’s efforts, researching the possibilities of restoring this obscure film and coming up with a solution, another generation of young people will be able to see one Black man’s vision. My husband’s vision. I am convinced that Dennis and Craig reaching out to me was a case of divine intervention.”

Watch the trailer for Solomon King.

SOLOMON KING, 1974, Sal/Wa Prod., 85 min. Dirs. Jack Bomay and Sal Watts. With “Little Jamie” Watts, Claudio Russo, Samaki Bennett, Tito Fuentes, Belinda B. Burton.

“Don’t you suckers know the days of Uncle Remus and Old Black Joe are gone?” barks ex-CIA operative/ex-Green Beret/nightclub owner Solomon King to a group of Black gang members at the Sugar Hill Club, in director/writer/actor Sal Watts’ long-lost Black urban crime/action film. In the vein of SHAFT, the film stars Watts as an African American version of James Bond/Matt Helm, seducing beautiful nightclub singers and beating the crap out of the henchmen of an oil-obsessed Middle Eastern ruler. Produced on a shoestring budget and shot on location in many of the businesses Watts owned, the film is a priceless document of early Seventies Black culture, music and fashion in Oakland – and a powerful metaphor for Black empowerment, with Solomon turning the tables on every duplicitous Establishment character he encounters. “You can’t do a damn thing without the motherf**in’ white man calling the shots,” he observes at one point.

Sal Watts’ personal story is even more fascinating: emerging from grinding poverty and racism in Mississippi, he went on to become a filmmaker and actor, record label owner, host of TV dance program “Soul Is,” fashion store owner and restaurateur in the 1970s, before serving time in federal prison on tax charges and dying in 2003.

Share ...

Subscribe for Blog Updates

Sign up for our latest updates.

Please follow us to get updates online.