Roger E. Mosley has a face you can’t forget. I don’t know what it is about him, but he just has one of those faces to me. It is distinctive. So much so, every time I see him in a movie, I impulsively point at the screen and yell out, “Oh, shit! Mosley!”
I don’t get that excited when I see him on screen in the many television shows he’s done in his career, but real-deal, classic movies of the 1970s are a different thing entirely.
In addition to making a small splash in blaxploitation films, he found his way into much higher profile films as well, including a role in McQ, one of John Wayne’s final films released in 1974.
Many of Mosley’s roles are just plain fun.
His role as a hit man disguised as a reverend who tries to muscle his way in on the mob in Sweet Jesus, Preacherman, is a character that frequently seeks laughs and gets them. His character Huey was continually outsmarted by Tyrone Tackett and provided some much needed comic relief to the dark, dark, dark, plot of Hit Man. Then there’s Darktown Strutters, which is one of those films that defy explanation.
Why We Love and Respect Him: Roger E. Mosley wasn’t afraid to take risks. One year he might appear in movies with John Wayne and Jeff Bridges, and then show up as the boyfriend of a woman leading a motorcycle gang who dress like Solid Gold dancers the very next year.
Best Known For: Flying Magnum PI around Hawaii, but for blaxploitation fans, he’s best known for being Goldie’s brother in The Mack.
Blaxploitation Role Call:
Hit Man (1972) as Huey: Huey is one of the thugs sent to see to it Tyrone Tackett takes the fast track out of town. The only problem is every time Huey and his buddy try to come down on Tackett, he makes the two stooges look like clowns.
The Mack (1974) as Olinga: Olinga is Goldie’s nagging brother who doesn’t like the fact Goldie pimps hos downtown. Olinga is a black nationalist whose group is determined to rid the ghetto of drug dealers and pimps. This puts Olinga and Goldie at odds with each other. The two do reconcile long enough to avenge their mother’s violent death.
Sweet Jesus, Preacherman (1973) as Holmes/Lee: Rev. Jason Lee isn’t what he appears. This preacher isn’t out searching for lost souls, he’s out searching for a new racket and he’s found one in this town. He slips in as a preacher, and then slowly starts muscling in on the local thugs who control things. It soon becomes a violent battle of wills the preacherman refuses to lose.
Darktown Strutters (1975) as Mellow: Mellow is Syreena’s boyfriend, but isn’t worth much when it comes to tracking down the missing folks in town and stopping the conspiracy threatening the community. For a movie as goofy as this one, that description sounds so serious doesn’t it?
How about we try…
Mellow’s girlfriend is leading a motorcycle gang in a revolution against a Colonel-Sanders lookalike who is using a chain of rib joints to gain the trust of the black community only to do cloning experiments on them in an effort to create voters who will pull the right lever at the polls. Mellow’s girlfriend is also on the hunt for her missing mother and several other prominent members of the black community.
Film Threat sums it up pretty well in their ode to Dark Town Strutters.
Big Time (1977) as J.J.: Don’t know much about it, never seen it. This is what IMDB says:
“A small time con-artist gets between the FBI and a suitcase filled with money. (Josiah Howard, ‘Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide.’)”
And here’s a clip featuring J.J….
He also did two biographical roles in the mid-1970s I didn’t include here because I don’t believe they should be considered blaxploitation. The first was his portrayal of Leadbelly in the movie Leadbelly. Second, was his portrayal of Sonny Liston in a Muhammed Ali bio pic starring Ali as himself.
Roger E. Mosley and Antonio Fargas interviewed at a party for stunt men
Sounds boring, but Mosley saves thing with his wit. They talk about stunt men and Bill Cosby for most of the interview. Mosley gets passionate near the end when discussing black stunt men breaking into the business to do stunts for Fred Williamson and Jim Brown.
Mosley Hosting Evening at the Improv
He’s got jokes.