Long-time regular readers of S & A know that I love to to discuss and bring to attention long-forgotten films and TV shows that I think may be of interest to our readers. As I’ve said before, I like to think that when it comes to black films and the black images on screen, how do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been? So I intend to keep writing about forgotten black films and other pictures of interest, basically for you to gain some knowledge, because I like to do it, and maybe, hopefully these lost films and TV series will be seen again.
So for today, let’s deal with the 1974 film “Catch My Soul.”
Never heard of it? It went in and out of theaters so fast that one didn’t have time to blink. I’ve never even seen the film myself, but I’ve always heard about it and been curious to screen it. It’s never been released on DVD or even on VHS, though there might be a bootleg copy of it floating around somewhere.
The film is a rock musical version of “Othello,” with folk singer Richie Havens in the lead, who, in this version, is an evangelist preacher in New Mexico who is led to believe that his wife Desdemona is cheating on him, by the treacherous Iago. Of course, we all know how the the story ends.
The film was based on a late 60’s London stage production, produced by and starring Jack Good as Othello, who was, at the time, the U.K. version of Dick Clark. Since he was white, of course, we have to assume that he played the role on stage in blackface. Though Good also produced the film version, they wisely got a black man to play the role in the film, although, according to reviews, Havens wasn’t that good in it.
“Catch My Soul” came out at the same time as director Norman Jewison’s very successful film version of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” so there were hopes that the film would follow in “Supertsar’s” footsteps. However bad reviews and lackluster box office pretty much killed it.
The film was later re-titled “Santa Fe Satan” and released in drive-ins, but still it did no business.
What’s also interesting is that it was the only one directed by actor Patrick McGoohan, who is better known for his roles in films like “Ice Station Zebra,” “Bravehaert,” “A Time to Kill,” and most famously, in the TV cult classic “The Prisoner,” which he also created and produced.
However, as a director, McGoohan might have been somewhat lacking. I recall seeing a TV interview many years ago with Havens in which he briefly talked about “Catch My Soul” and said that McGoohan wasn’t a great communicator, and was always vague about what exactly he wanted from his actors.
McGooghan, for his part, later laid the blame on Jack Good claiming that he “got religion” during the making of the film converting to Catholicism; and so the film was recut, adding “more religious stuff,”.as McGoohan said when he saw the final result, adding that the film was “a disaster.” He then tried to get his name taken off the credits, but to no avail.
Now the film seems to be lost, unseen; and there isn’t even a decent print anywhere around it appears. But it’s a genuine curio that just might pop up one day.
Check out the trailer and poster below: