Editor's Note: While this "Old School Video Pick" of "Halls of Anger" has run before, I couldn't help but update a few things in it after recently watching it again along with a few other Calvin Lockhart movies, like "Melinda" with Vonetta McGee and Rosalind Cash." Lockhart was an enormously talented actor who left us way too soon.
Audiences may best remember Calvin Lockhart, as the tall, dark and handsome actor who portrayed memorable characters like the Rev. Deke O'Malley in Ossie Davis' "Cotton Comes to Harlem" (1970); a disc-jockey and detective in "Melinda" (1972) (which also starred Rosalind Cash and the late, great Vonetta McGee) ; Silky Slim in "Uptown Saturday Night" (1974) and the ultra-cool gangster, Biggie Smalls in the Sidney Poitier directed, "Let's Do It Again." (1975).
The Bahamian/American actor died March 29, 2007 from complications of a stroke.
Prior to his death Lockhart had eked out a tremendous acting career and heated up the small screen when he played Jonathan Lake, the love interest of Diahann Carroll on the hit TV show, "Dynasty."
Good looks and talent took Lockhart far. He became an actor-in-residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. He later starred on Broadway, notably in in the play, "The Cool World."
While Lockhart's first major film role was as the boyfriend of singer/actress Genevieve Waite in the interracial 1967 movie "Joanna," his first lead role was in the 1970 dramatic movie, "Halls of Anger."
If you can get your hands on a copy of this rare and classic movie you'll see just what an extraordinary actor Lockhart truly was. You might also be able to catch "Halls of Anger" on TV-One and BET.
"Halls of Anger" is a powerful movie. It takes an unflinching look at black and white race relations. In addition to Lockhart, the film features a star-studded cast from the late Janet MacLachlan, to "Crazy Heart" Oscar winner Jeff Bridges, Ed Asner, Rob Reiner, Michael Warren, James A. Watson Jr., Patricia Stich, and John McLiam.
Lockhart plays Quincy Davis, an English teacher who has a good job at a school in the white suburbs, but is offered a vice principal job at an inner-city school.
When Quincy arrives to the campus he soon finds out it's a different world. The school has plenty of issues, but the biggest are its out-of-control students. It's no wonder the principal, Boyd Wilkinson (John McLiam) runs the place like a prison.
He hopes that Quincy (Lockhart) will come in, turn things around and keep the peace especially now since white students are being bused to the school. That's a real tall order.
Tensions continue to escalate when a white student (Patricia Stich) is threatened and nearly raped in the locker room. Another student, Douglas (Bridges) is humiliated and beaten almost daily by a group of thugs led by J.T. Watson (James A. Watson Jr.).
Is there anything that can bring these students together and squash their hostility and hatred toward each other? You'll be surprised.
As an entertainment writer, I've met and interviewed tons of actors over the years, but I never met Calvin Lockhart. I wish I had. He was an enormously talented actor. His style and onscreen charisma is admired and emulated by many actors even today.
The late, rapper Christopher Wallace loved Lockhart's swagger so much he "adopted" Lockhart's character name "Biggie Smalls" from the movie, "Let's Do It Again" until a lawsuit came about demanding Wallace change the name to Notorious B.I.G.
Fortunately, Lockhart has left his fans with an impressive body of work. "Halls of Anger" is a real gem that tops my list among the many outstanding black movies from the 1970s.