Cool Breeze (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) (1972)

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THALMUS RASULALA: AN ACTOR WITH IDEAS Talking to Thalmus Rasulala, who makes his film debut in MGM’s “Cool Breeze,”’ interviewers discover an amazing amount of research has gone into his portrayal of ‘“‘Sidney Lord Jones.” Rasulala explains, ‘‘‘The Lord,’ as he is known to his close associates, came into his manhood hustling the streets of San Francisco. Spirited by the frustrations he endured as a second class citizen, and his newly found sense of Black pride, he set out to better his condition. “‘He secured a job as a bank clerk, and by exercising his ability, worked himself up to a position of responsibility within the bank’s administrative branch. “‘Then he began his attack on the ‘system’ at its core. He started shuffling the banks trust dollars around to suit his own purposes, one of which was the financing of Black business within the Black community, a sort of contemporary Robin Hood. ““*The Lord’ was quite successful in his endeavors, until one of his women thought she was being short-changed, and took it upon herself to blow his game. “After a year-and-a-half in San Quentin, ‘The Lord’ is back on the streets. That’s when our movie begins,’’ explains Rasulala. “Any ‘brother’ who has been out there in the jungle, and is hip to the ghetto environment, knows exactly who ‘The Lord’ is and where he’s coming from, and where he’s going is what our film is all about. He’s still got the notion that financing legitimate Black business is the way for Blacks to break out of the ghetto, so he plans a three million dollar diamond heist to get capital. Unfortunately he finds that all his ‘brothers’ aren’t as high principled as JUDY SETS THE PACE “Today’s films are dominated by men, but there have been films written around white actresses. I’m looking forward to the day when a script is written with a Black woman as the lead character,’’ said Judy Pace, who portrays one of the main characters in MGM's ‘‘Cool Breeze.’’ ‘‘But my role in ‘Cool Breeze’ does offer a considerable amount of screen time,’’ she added, ‘‘and | like the script very much. Can you imagine four ‘brothers’ rippin’ off a jewelry store in a bus?” “Cool Breeze,’’ produced by Gene Corman, and directed by Barry Pollack from his original screenplay is about the heist of $3,000,000 worth of diamonds and also stars Thalmus Rasulala, Jim Watkins, Lincoln Kilpatrick and Raymond St. Jacques. “Every role I’ve had, I’ve always been the same character. In television it’s nice girl, and in films it’s the bitch,”’ Judy Pace went on to Say. Miss Pace, referred to as ‘‘the most beautiful Black woman in Hollywood”’ by Daily Variety, has a total of nine feature films to her credit since beginning her career in 1967. She also won the 1970 NAACP Image Award as ‘‘Outstanding Television Actress,”’ Thalmus Rasulala stars as Sidney Lord Jones in MGM’s “Cool Breeze,” ‘The Lord’ to his partisans — proud, and an ingenious espouser of liberation through ¥& the forces of economics. His 8% quest, a $3,000,000 diamond 3 heist. MAT NO. 1H he, and is soon caught in a double-cross, as well as on the run from the police.” As far as director, Barry Pollack is concerned, Rasulala’s research has paid off. ‘‘He took the character of Sidney Lord in a totally different direction than | had conceived it,’’ says Pollack, “but as far as I’m concerned, he is Sidney Lord Jones.’’ “Cool Breeze,’”’ produced by Gene Corman, also stars Judy Pace, Jim Watkins, Lincoln Kilpatrick and Raymond St. Jacques. Director Pollack wrote the original screenplay. for her role in ABC-TV’s ‘“‘The Young Lawyers.’’ Honors notwithstanding, she’s concerned about the ills of society, she explains. In the past decade there has been a new awareness of Black pride. Blacks are no longer content with being considered second class citizens. | think television has a lot to do with this. “‘I_ can remember as a kid standing in front of the department stores watching television, and seeing things | could never see otherwise. “Let’s say you were 10 years old watching television in 1948. By twenty you were ready to get out into the world in search of some of these fantastic things you saw. Suddenly, though, you were made aware of your blackness, and status as a second class citizen. You could become evil as hell. “I have a thing about the song ‘We Shall Overcome,’ because it’s not the Blacks who have to overcome, it’s the whites. It’s not a Black problem, it’s a white problem. For a Black to excel in this society, he has to be twice as good and work twice as hard,’’ said Miss Pace. And she certainly is working. As she explains it, ‘“‘The more you are in front of the camera, the more you are going to learn. You keep hoping that one day a role will come along, that will offer a challenge and you'll be ready for it.’ Then she added; ‘‘at least I’m going to try.”’ ONE SIDE OF THE LAW TO THE OTHER While a member of New York City’s Police Department, Jim Watkins struggled to decide on a career in law enforcement, or a future in the field of entertainment. ‘“‘Being a performer is something | had always wanted to do, but | made enough excuses to limit my aspirations to distant dreams of success,’’ said Watkins. Fortunately, many of his friends were more optimistic about his endowments. Their constant encouragement and his own growing discontent with the police force, persuaded him to take a more positive attitude toward his aspirations. He then acquired a voice instructor, and with each session he became more confident in his singing ability, and was soon appearing in night clubs around the New York City area. Driven on by his new found confidence as a singer, he then began taking drama lessons, and in less than a year was one of the most promising students in the class. Now, just three years later, Jim Watkins is making his motion picture debut starring in ‘‘Cool Breeze,’’ produced by Gene Corman and directed by Barry Pollack for MGM. Written by Pollack, ‘‘Cool Breeze’ tells the story of a group of Black “‘brothers’”’ stealing $3 million worth of diamonds. Thalmus Rasulala, Judy Pace, Lincoln Kilpatrick and Raymond St. Jacques star. Watkins plays the role of Travis Battle, a former pro football player who has been released from his team due to a war injury. With his dreams of playing football over, his pain turns to hostility, and he barely manages to stay one step ahead of the law. Watkins, born in Philadelphia, but raised on Staten Island, enlisted in the Marine Corps three days after his graduation from Curtis High School. After honorable discharge in 1967, he became a policeman. Prior to coming to Los Angeles six months ago, Watkins’ acting career, aside from a minor stage role in Pear| Bailey's Company of “‘Hello, Dolly,’’ has been limited to television commercials. Now with ‘‘Cool Breeze,”’ the ex-policeman finds himself playing a bitter young man striking out at society the only way he knows how — by a life of crime. SeaRER teers aire Obalese (Judy Pace) tries in vain, with her womanly woos, to ease the burden of frustration for her main-man Travis (Jim Watkins), who sits emotionless by in MGM’s ‘‘Cool Breeze.”’ MAT NO. 2B