The year was 1989, and although Denzel Washington had already made a name for himself with more serious roles, his titular part as the sexy police chief on a Caribbean island in “The Mighty Quinn” marked his coming-out as a super-hot movie star. Perhaps we’re going to need to mine these older thrillers that rely on plot and fine acting rather than 17-minute digital fight scenes and alien spacecraft firing from outer space. “The Mighty Quinn” provides the kind of fun, music — specifically reggae — and wonderful characters that make you willing to return to the silver screen. Like you did in the old days.
Last Saturday night at the M.V. Film Center, a Mighty Crew from MVRHS put on a fun-filled fundraiser for their local radio station WYOB — streaming 24/7 — which in itself can sound like the score for this delightful classic movie. Radio station founder Skip Finley of Oak Bluffs, veteran radio executive and awardwinning broadcaster, got the ball rolling on Oct. 10, 2015. His intention was to provide classes for students interested in radio, TV, and showbiz in general. The startup has proven a big success.
And speaking of reggae, there’s a lot of it playing on WYOB, in addition to a general category called “Your Favorite Songs.” On hand for Saturday night’s fundraiser was 10th grade intern Bella Carrillo, who stood behind a table of WYOB T shirts, stickers, and other paraphernalia. Finley provided a shout-out to a company in Miami, Kulcha Shok, that shipped a whole box of these wares for free. Bella and Finley riffed on how the eager students have soaked up — from Finley and other teachers, including Bill Narkiewicz — elements of style for radio broadcasting.
Also on hand was 12th grader Malick Burke, son of a well-known reggae DJ, and the primary DJ himself now on WYOB. When asked his favorite music he, unsurprisingly, said “reggae,” and when asked to follow it up with some special artists, he wrote down in this reporter’s notebook: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru, Chronixx, and Capleton. You can hear them on WYOB.
Meanwhile, behind the wide counter of the Film Society, elite chefs from Vineyard Caribbean Cuisine in Vineyard Haven, Anthony Foster and Newton Waite, dished up Asian-fusion specialties with a Jamaican accent, including spicy sauces, causing some of us to reach for the rum punch offered alongside the fun food.
Next up was the movie, a potpourri of terrific actors, including Esther Rolle as a wheelchair-bound voodoo queen, Robert Townsend as the scamp Maubee, Chief Quinn’s childhood buddy suspected of murder, but possessed of a randy-dandy grin and the ability to basically disappear into thin air. Mimi Rogers plays the white chick whom Quinn manages to resist, Sheryl Lee Ralph the chief’s disgruntled spouse who manages to resist him, and M. Emmet Walsh the bad guy — white, old, nasty — who [spoiler alert] gets his in the end.
The actors, the magical setting, the well-tempered plot, and the music make this a film to see again and again. Finley knew this when he picked it for the fundraiser, and the smart crew at the Film Society ran it for the good of all.
Meanwhile, the date being March 31 — a blue moon for those who understand how special that is — Finley mentioned April 1 is the birthday of reggae maestro Jimmy Cliff (hit song “The Harder They Come,” and many more), and the birthday of M.V. Film Society director Richard Paradise, abducted by his wife to Costa Rica to celebrate his special day.
If you can tear yourself away from NPR on your radio dial, tune in to WYOB, 105.5 FM, for a blast of kids’ voices in broadcast mode, Malick spinning reggae and announcing in a basso Jamaican-inflected voice, “Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts,” and pop songs to light your heart. Hint: In the background I just heard “It’s in His Kiss,” the “Shoop Shoop” song, by Betty Everett.