In Focus-Magazine

Rosewood (1997)
Monday, 04.09.2018, 02:20 PM

Rosewood (1997)

By Anne Waisanen

Director: John Singelton Writer: Gregory Poirier.

Rosewood (1997) is a story told in a Florida town in 1922 of a 22-year-old married white woman named Fannie Taylor (Catherine Kellnar) is beaten by her lover (Robert Patrick)  and to cover up her adultery she tells everyone she was beaten and raped by a black man.

 Starring: Ving Rhames, Jon Voigt, Don Cheadle, Michael Rooker, Bruce McGill, Loren Dean, Esther Rolle, Elise Neal, Robert Patrick, Catherine Kellnar and Katherine Meisle.

This lie turnes most of the white folks to riot against all the blacks, causing tons of lynching, and a lot of murders, mostly towards the black side.

The store owner John Wright (John Voight) Jon Voigt is nice enough to have sex with his young black store assistant.

Riding into town on a horse is Mann (Ving Rhames), a veteran of World War I.  Mann makes friends with the black piano-player Sylvester (Don Cheadle) and a 17-year old member of his family, Scrappy (Elsie Neal), the latter who has a crush on him.

But this is merely the beginning. Soon every night for a couple days, a huge group of bigot jerks is going out and lynching any black man they can find. And soon Sylvester's house is burned down, -- is shot by some schmuck, and all the women and children have escaped into the Florida swamps.

But they have some help. For one thing, Jon Voigt becomes the big sympathizer, and is soon hiding black runaways in his house, which would get his house burned down if they found it. And Mann comes back into town after leaving, and is shooting white boys, and basically helping them escape. The sheriff (Michael Rooker, at his most unintelligible) claims to want everyone to stop it, but is almost as racist as the others, even if he did tell Sylvester to hop town the day his house was burned down.

Thankfully, Singleton creates a good white man in the form of Jon Voigt. Sure, he's scared for his and his family's safety, but he still puts his neck out to save everyone who's being wrongly persecuted.

The film is totally engrossing, from start to finish, which is a good thing for a two and a half hour long film.

The event that triggers the massacre does not come until about a half hour or so in, when one Fannie Taylor (Catherine Kellner), a white housewife, claims that she was assaulted by a black stranger (in actuality, she was assaulted by her lover, who was also white) we see the town's white sheriff (Michael Rooker) join take part in all the killing even though he's never completely convinced by Fannie's story.

Similarly subdued to equal effect are the actors. It goes without saying that Ving Rhames, who plays Mann, the noble stranger to town--who, with white shopkeeper John Wright (Jon Voight), helps a number of women and children flee to safety--is a physically commanding presence onscreen, and his brawn is well-suited to the role. But there's real vulnerability and soul behind the bulk, evident in his expressive eyes and in his warm scenes with the charming Elise Neal, who plays Scrappie, a teen who falls for Mann. Don Cheadle, as the vengeful Sylvester Carrier, the controlled fury he brings to the role is much more effective than any histrionics would have been..

Several local actors were used including Marc Macaulay as Bobby, Brett Rice as William Bryce and Todd Thompson as Cracker. Local casting was done by Lori Wyman

The film was shot all through Lake county and Sanford, Florida. Several of the stunts were done by Grady Bishop and Jim Vickers along with several others.

Anne Waisanen is the Publisher/Owner of In Focus Magazine.. She is an Alumni of Emerson College in Boston, majoring in Film and Communications.   This included writing, producing, filming and acting. She is a member of WIFT, Women in Film and Television

Anne Waisanen can be reached at









Anne Waisanen

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