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The Liberation of L.B. Jones Reviews

Majors and Hershey, a young married couple, go to live with his uncle, Cobb, a leading lawyer, in the South. Majors has come to join his uncle's law practice. Arriving on the same train is Kotto, returning to the same town to avenge a brutal beating once inflicted on him by Johnson. Browne is a black funeral director, a wealthy man who wants to divorce his wife (Falana in her American film debut) for having an affair with Zerbe, a white policeman. Though Cobb does not want the case, Majors persuades his uncle to handle the suit. Fearful of the scandal such a legal battle would cause, Zerbe implores Falana not to contest the divorce. But she needs money to raise Zerbe's child. Angry, he severely beats her. Then, with the help of Johnson, he arrests Browne on false pretenses. The undertaker escapes, the two policemen pursue him, and tired of running, Browne confronts the men. They shoot and castrate him, and although the policemen confess, no legal action is taken. Kotto, still after crooked cop Johnson, avenges the murder by pushing him into a harvester. He thinks he is retaliating for his long-ago beating as he unknowingly avenges his compatriot's murder. Though the cast gives some strong performances, ultimately the film is an empty affair. The questions of racism and southern prejudice had been well handled by other films long before this. Had it been made 10 years earlier it would have been a landmark, but in 1970 it was no longer fresh material. The script is pockmarked with cliches and stereotypes, though the technical aspects are fine. This last film of director Wyler was nothing special. For what it's worth, this film generated some anonymous complaints from the Ku Klux Klan.