Five on the Black Hand Side was a light comedy film from 1973 based on the play by Charlie L. Russell. It starred the likes of Clarice Taylor, Leonard Jackson, Virginia Capers, and Godfrey Cambridge, as himself. The comedy centered on familial tensions in the build-up to the wedding of the daughter of a high-handed patriarch who had fallen out with one of his sons, and was sorely abusing his put-upon wife, even as he regarded himself as a model citizen, pillar of the community and head of the household. By the close of the film however, all the characters find themselves united in mid 1970s Afrocentric bliss and unity.
Much of the film is set within the household of the central family, and noticeable on the wall of one of the rooms is a small reproduction of Charles White’s iconic Move On Up a Little Higher, 1961, Charcoal and Wolff crayon on illustration board, 1004 x 1205 mm; signed and dated in charcoal, lower right.
This was a small, but highly significant decorative item within the home, speaking as it did to Black consciousness, and the importance of strong and positive images of African Americans, including women. The film is certainly worth watching, if only for the important glimpses of one of Charles White’s signature pieces.