Thats The Way Of The World Starring Harvey Keitel & Earth, Wind & Fire as (The Group) DVD
Considering the soundtrack achieved triple platinum sales, a number one R&B album of 1975 and third best pop selling album, the film flopped more than the popular athletic one named after Dick Fosbury. I spy with my cynical eye that the film nose dived because it really exposed how much the idea of “freedom and equality via the American Dream”, was really a smoke screen for it being America’s reality in the music industry nightmare. Harvey Keitel plays Buckmaster a cool Caucasian as a street wise edged, ears to the ground of the perfect sound record producer. He does however naively work for a scrupulous syndicated corporate music label. His vision is to make the locals talent of black musicians “The Group” played by Earth, Wind & Fire, a national crossover act, without selling out their integrity and natural essence of making good music.
The film shows the high flying ruthless head of the label juggling to keep his immediate boss an Italian Mafia mogul’s, content to continue his licence to print money payola and jukebox operations active. The discrimination and racism is blatant in how the Italian’s flexed their visible and invisible muscle, and would rather cater to the white audience with second rate “poop music”, from an all American clean living imaged talentless white act “The Pages”. This is preferred to the indigenous talent of the real “Shining Star” “black artists “The Group “ with no regard whatsoever for their welfare. The main “Reason’ being that the record company had them under a legally binding recording contract. Buckmaster (Harvey Keitel) is also under contract and is riddled with a not so “Happy Feelin’” to be working with “The Pages”, and realises he is compromised, and in one way or another he is damed whatever he does. The film is quite fast moving so don’t blink or you’ll miss some of the subtle key turning points of the films outcome.
This film does examine lots of dubious elements of control and legal documents, very much in the way America thrived during those hedonistic activities at the height of the “Africano” Slave trade. There is no disparage, if you check out the similarity. The human trafficking of an artist being regarded as personal property with legal papers to do as you wish exploiting their labour, is nothing less than swapping the cotton fields for the music industry arena. The ruthlessness means that Buckmaster is faced with succumbing to his bosses blackmailing demands, into shelving “The Group” to push the Pages into the global music stratosphere.
All the subliminal hurdles faced by the, more talent in one little finger, super band, “The Group”, are not even remotely visible for the no talent in all three bodies combined of “The Pages”. Velour “The Pages” ambitious female vocalist sets her amorous sights on young Buckmaster, who himself can “See The Light” of an opportunity in embracing her flirtatious prowess towards him. He’s tried to appeal to a few he respects better senses on what is right from wrong ethically and within the industry, but Buckmaster is now “Yearnin’, Learnin” and debating at the same time, how not to lose his integrity for what he has worked hard to preserve. Realising “Thats The Way Of The World “ he lives in, will Buckmaster sacrifices everything in his “All About Love” for the music plan to remain an honest man and take control of his and “The Group’s” destiny? It’s a very insightful film, that’s poignant in so many ways regarding the legacy of Maurice White and Earth, Wind & Fire, who just naturally play themselves. There is some very cool and intelligent piece of acting skills coming from Harvey Keitel and great production and direction from Sig Shore (Superfly fame). Written and inspired by the soundtrack song titles done in the Spirit of EWF.