LORD THING (1970) and THE CORNER (1963)
In 2012, the National Film Preservation Foundation awarded CFA a grant to preserve two films that document the activities and social-political transformation of the Vice Lords, a black street gang from Chicago’s west side.
DeWitt Beall’s LORD THING (1970) is a film that “begins in the ghetto streets of the mid-Fifties— a virtual combat zone for dozens of small neighborhood gangs from different parts of the city [that in time unite] forces in a common cause.” Only a muddy VHS copy of the film had been circulating until CFA recently discovered 16mm prints in storage and under the care of Beall’s widow. This film won a Silver Medal in the Venice Film Festival.
Robert Ford’s THE CORNER (1963) was filmed as a student project and is a more personal exploration of the Vice Lords gang members. The west-side youths struggle to better understand themselves in the context of their neighborhood, slowly exposing the underpinnings of gang mentality. This film received a Golden Eagle certificate from the Council on International Non-theatrical Events (CINE).
The films fall within a period that begins when the Supreme Court struck down the practice of segregation in 1955 to 1970 when the civil rights movement was at its height.