Today The Education of Sonny Carson is probably just as known as the source of the unforgettable tough-talking dialogue samples on Ghostface Killah‘s Ironman album as it is for being one of the great-if-under-appreciated works of ’70s Black cinema.
Despite a limited budget, the film — based on the autobiography of activist Sonny Carson (father of X-Clan’s Professor X) – is rich in innovative techniques (the brutal “Old Mill” gang initiation still amazes) and intense performances by actors and real-life folk alike. (Rony Clanton stars as Sonny, with Thomas Hicks stealing the show as the much-quotable juvenile causin’ hell version of Carson.) It’s also an opportunity to see New York City as it once was, particularly Brooklyn’s Prospect Park where The Warlords and Tomahawks rumble in a scene that no doubt must have influenced The Warriors movie (1979). (The opening scene of the youths robbing the grocery store and the subsequent prison scenes seem like they might have had their effect on Edward James Olmos’ 1992 film, American Me.) One of the movie’s strengths is not only the manner in which it captures the plight of the ghetto, but its ability to almost quietly make its point amidst the harrowing circumstances. And, of course, the dialogue makes an impact throughout, like the scene at the police station when a dirty detective says, “You wanna know something? Your kind should be locked up from the day they’re born,” to which Sonny replies, “You wanna know something?… We are.”
Directed by Michael Campus, who also made The Mack (1973).
(Props to IoSoS215 for the upload)