Saturday, February 18, 2012


Bone A.K.A. Housewife (1972)

Dir: Larry Cohen (Black Caesar/Hell up in Harlem/God Told me To/It's Alive/Original Gangsters)

IMDB rating: 6.7 out of 10

Blaxploitation is one vast and strangely diverse sun genre of films. With the standards being action/drug focussed films like Shaft, Superfly,Hell up in Harlem but for every ten films in the genre filled with smooth talking , jive slinging , struggle of the streets standard films there is one or two that truly stand out and have more of a message then "white man is the devil, keeping the black man down." and actually has a deeper meaning then just that. Bone is one of those films. Blaxploitation legendary director Larry Cohen makes his directorial debut in this odd, dark and funny commentary on race relations and the dark side of things. The film is largely just dialogue but let me tell you that is certainly a strong suit in the case of this film.

         Bone starts off with a older white couple living in the nicer area of Beverly Hills in the biggest house on the block. We see used car salesman Bill cleaning his pool while ranting about the work ethics of his hired help as his spoiled wife sits useless poolside. As Bill takes a die he finds a rat in his pool and decides to call the pool service when a large black man named only Bone (Yaphet Kotto) appears seemingly out of nowhere. He secures the rat and kills it before asking if he could perhaps get some work from the couple. When Bill denies his offer for services he demands a tip for the help with the rodent and the conversation gets a bit aggressive. After a long and intimidating exchange of words Bone forces the family into the house in order to get some money. As Bone ransacks the house he finds that not only does Bill not have any money he is in terrible debt which rises the curiosity of his wife Bernadette, whom he has been keeping this secret from.After further investigation Bone finds Bill has a secret bank account and demands that bill empties it and returns the money to him within an hour or he will rape and kill his wife, So Bone stays at the house with the  wife as Bill heads out to get the money.

We folow Bill as he heads to the bank and upon getting an offer to take a loan instead of closing his account he takes sometime to mull it over as he thinks back to how badly his wife treats him. While he is wandering the streets near the bank he runs into some interesting characters. First a woman at a bar who recognizes him from T.V. and she goes on about a conspiracy against dentists and how they were all killed off for some odd reason and then Bill runs into a young woman who admits to changing banks every month to get perks and she steals stamps and such from glove compartments of cars as well as con's stores to get by. He follows her to a grocer where he helps her steal some steak. Meanwhile back at the house Bernadette is forced to cook for Bone and the two begin to have mixed drinks and discus life.Bill ends up going to the strange young woman's house where she believes he is a man responsible for molesting her as a child and that somehow turns her on in which she decides to molest Bill. As bill's time runs out Bone springs into action and attempts to rape Bernadette but stops mid attack and decides he cannot do it, while the two share a drink she wants to know why he could not do it. Bone tries to come up with excuses and she buys none of them and the two start to discuss race relations and eventually Bernadette comes on to Bone in a scene which shows that he is more of a push over then he leads on.

After Bone and Bernadette appear to take a liking for each other they find that Bill had not taken the money out of the bank and has no plans to, While Bill appears to be planning to use this attack as a publicity stunt to boost his dying car sales and get some sympathy. Bernadette finds Bill's Life insurance papers and sets out to murder him and live with Bone. Bill appears to slowly be loosing it as The new couple is on his tail. At one point Bernadette has a melt down where she admits that their son whom they tell everyone is in Vietnam fighting the war is actually imprisoned in Spain for smuggling hash and that they refused to help him and deny this ever happened. She then states that it was Bill's Idea because if it were hers she would remember, in a strange scene where Bernadette plays a convincing lunatic for sure. After a short hunt for Bill Bone and Bill's wife find him at his agents and a chase begins which leads the three onto a bus where Bill tries to reason with Bone stating he will let the two live together and he will be their servant in exchange for letting him live. Once the odd trio gets off the bus near a deserted beach Bill continues to try and pitch this deal to bone , when Bernadette attacks Bill and kills him on the beach while screaming she never needed Bone to do this. When she looks up Bone is gone and she begins coming up with explanations to tell the cops about a large black man that raped her and killed her husband.Leaving the viewer to wonder if Bone was ever really there in the first place?

Bone is about as dark of a comedy as you will find , but it does have it's hilarious moments. The script is flawless and all the characters are played perfectly. If I were to have to compare it to any other film I would say it would have to be a film like "Private Parts" with all the oddball cast and quirky individuals throughout.The end scene with Bernadette ranting about the black man that did  this to her and the scene prior where she snapped about her son not being helped was not her fault really make you question if she was just a gold digger looking for an easy excuse to get away with murder and the easy way out was societies fear of Black people. Truly an awesome film from beginning to end . This is not by any means the typical blaxploitation film so if you are looking for funky music , flashy outfits and gunfights look elsewhere but if you are looking for a flick that will strike a nerve and make you laugh at the same time , albeit in some very strange set ups that should not be funny , this film is perfect.Larry Cohen certainly hit a home run here with his debut and it is no wonder he went on to direct genre classics such as Hell up in Harlem and Black Caesar, which by the way are both awesome and much more standard for the genre.I recommend this film to anybody that enjoys dialogue heavy films as the conversations in this flick are splendid and some make some really heavy points. The laughs are here but not thrown in your face and anyone who has ever lived in an urban area will get a kick out of the weirdo's Bill runs into on his journey's. Seek this one out if you can it is definitely worth your time.
Brilliant visuals, Great mood setting set pieces and sparkling dialogue make Bone a winner.

Fun Factor:7
Overall: 7.5 out of 10

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Superfly T.N.T.

Superfly T.N.T.  (1973)

Dir: Ron O'Neil

IMDB Rating: 4.5 out of 10

Ron O'Neil reprises his role as the Blaxploitation Icon Priest in this self directed sequel to one of the most popular Afro-Centric pieces of cinema history. Sadly however, this one in no way lives up to the legendary status of it's predecessor.

              Several years after the events in the first film, Priest has relocated to Rome with his lady friend Georgia to live a somewhat more legitimate lifestyle as Priest has grown tired of his old Hustling ways. However he proves you cannot teach an old dog new tricks as he quickly finds himself in a group of local big rigs for weekly high stakes poker games. Elsewhere in Dubay, West Africa a group of revolutionaries are ambushed while transporting weapons to their headquarters. Dr.Sonko one of the representatives of this revolutionary army is in Rome and contacts Matty, The head of the poker games in hopes to trade some uncut diamonds for cash in order to replace his arms. Matty not wanting to get involved is quick to deny Sonko's requests. After a brief run in with priest, Sonko becomes intrigued with the man and his street savvy ways, as he heads out to get some Intel on the former New York Drug Peddler. After realizing that priest may have just the money for his cause he approaches Priest with the same proposal, However Priest says he is out of the game and is trying to get his head straight and live a square life after his years on the streets. Priest is now too busy hanging with his new found upper echelon friends such as his gambling buddies and Jerome (Robert Guillaume) a novelist Georgia had introduced him to. After Sonko hits a nerve calling Priest the worst kind of slave and convincing him of how exactly the African revolution effects him as well, Priest does some soul searching and heads to Africa.

Upon returning home Priest decides to give in to Sonko's demands but will not put up his own cash , so he heads to Matty's for one more big game of cards. After pulling a all nighter in a very intense game that ends with just Matty and Priest left, Priest bluffs his way to Matty owing him some serious cash. When Matty admits he cannot pay up front and needs sometime to pay it off Priest offers a negotiation in exchange for the firepower Sonko is looking for he will wipe the debt clean. Not wanting to break his bank Matty accepts.
Priest relays the good news to Sonko but, it appears the old man is a bit of a hustler himself as he let's Priest know his services are not quite done yet as he needs help getting the arms across the borders and through customs. Priest being the smooth talker he is , he manages to get the arms through without a hitch but the problems lay in getting into the country as the military guards all ports. Priest of course has all bases covered as he heads out with the shipment and the first one is filled with nothing but fruit and other food as the military ambushes the shipment to find nothing illegal. Dubay's General does not bite the bait and Priest is taking into custody for questioning when it is found that he is in with Sonko. The General and his men beat Priest pretty bad during interrogation but his lips are sealed. Sonko plans to meet the General and speak of these arms coming in to the country and meanwhile Priest manages to escape his cell with some crafty electrician work.
As priest free's himself we are lead to believe that the shipment went as planned as we  see Priest arrive back in Rome to meet Georgia and presumably start the family she so desperatley wants.

Sometimes when a film tries to fit too much into itself it truly accomplishes nothing, this is what this film suffers from. A big majority of the film is about Priest wanting to have a normal life and him meeting new positive friends but then those unique and somewhat interesting stories and set pieces get thrown to the background almost entirely in a matter of seconds so they could shoe horn in the African Revolution plot. We meet Jordan who seems like a interesting character and the dialogue between he and Priest is fun and entertaining , then he just disappears as Priest gives in and heads to Africa. Also the big pay off finale is so rushed it really has no impact and is quite a anti climatic finish to what could have been a good movie if it would have stuck with one story or the other. Honestly I think a film about Priest cleaning up and perhaps writing his own book about his life on the streets while having some up's and down's in the process would have been a much more interesting film to me than the over the top crime drama they attempted to make this one. Sadly some films should just be left alone and not touched or given a sequel treatment, Superfly is one of these films. Superfly was a success because it was a bigger budgeted film, the story and characters were endearing although at times over the top and the soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield  and forever will be widely considered a Musical masterpiece. This sequel just completely lacked everything that made the first one so great and that is just a depressing thing to see. This film just comes off as a quick attempt at a cash in for Ron O'Neil to come back to his careers high point in hopes of lightning striking twice and even with the great cast including some talented performers such as Robert Gulluame (Benson) and Roscoe Lee Brown (Uptown Saturday Night/Benson/Jumpin' Jack Flash) this bolt completely missed the mark. Even more unsettling is this was not the final installment to the series as in the early 90's Return of Superfly was released, I have yet to see that film but I remember seeing it on shelves of local video stores as a child and just being furious that one , They would even dare making such a film after I saw and loved the original and two, Ron O'Neil was not in the role of Priest....I am not sure I will be checking that one out but chances are someday I will and I am sure it is even worse than this one and I just hate seeing my favorite films being run into the ground like this. If you need some Priest in  your life stick with the original which is indeed a classic and deserves it's reputation among the great films in Black cinema , Do Not even Bother with this one.

Fun Factor:2
Overall: 2.5 out of 10

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pam Grier: The strongest woman in Cinema

When one thinks of women being portrayed as strong and beautiful on screen, Pam Grier should always be at the top of the list. I have never before nor since seen a woman with the ability to blend the Sexy and sometimes vulnerable appearance yet always getting the point across that she can kick the ass of any man that crosses her. In a genre of film filled with over the top tough guys and hustlers played by manly men like Richard Roundtree,Fred Williamson,Jim Brown and Issac Hayes , Pam always was able to hold her own and at times be even more dangerous and powerful just due to her alluring attributes. Not to mention she could dish out the jive with the best of em'. When one thinks of Blaxploitation cinema Grier is one name that personifies the genre without a doubt. With a long list of classics of the genre such as Black Mama, White Mama/Coffy/Foxxy Brown and Friday Foster just to name a few.

         Born Pamela Suzette ,May 26th 1949 in Winston Salem North carolina. Grier got her start in film while working as a receptionist for American International Pictures when she was offered a small role as a party goer in the infamous "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls". After being spotted in that film she was given her first big opportunity at a starring role in Eddie Romero's "Black Mama, White Mama" along side co-star Margaret Markov. Following the success of her performance in that film Grier went on to do a few other similar films and became somewhat of the go to girl for american WIP films. Her performances as the tough chick in peril eventually scored her the role of the urban tough chick with films like Coffy and Foxxy Brown where she became the female alternative to the male heavy vigilante exploitation roles like Shaft and the slew of others so popular at the time, From there the rest was history. Until the Blaxploitation boom died down and so did Pam's career, since she had become type cast as the strong woman out for revenge, It seemed there was not much out there for Pam. Until the 90's when the Blaxploitation cinema had somewhat of a resurgence with the release of films like "Return of Superfly" "Action Jackson" and the spoof "I'm gonna get you sucka!" then in 1996 she scored a role in the film "Original Gangstas" alongside several other Blaxploitation legends. Her big score came a year later when avid grindhouse and cult cinema fan Quentin Tarrantino Cast Grier as the lead in "Jackie Brown" after the success of that film Pam's career seemed to take off once again and she further solidified herself as the queen of Black Cinema. Later showing her softer and more serious side in the cable t.v. show "The L-Word". Since then Grier has remained somewhat in the limelight as a legend of american cinema.

                  Pam Grier helped prove that women can be just as rough and tough on screen as the guys and no one can do it better than her. It is refreshing to see such a lovely lady being portrayed as more than just a piece of ass , although she never shy'd away from showing hers as awesome as it is. Pam also was not the typical bone thin actress that is so popular in Hollywood as she proved that curves are certainly never gonna go out of style and she made it sexy to be proud of your body no matter what. Now she was not obese by any means but when one thinks of the word "Thick" one would have to sight Grier as the status quo in that department. With her full breasts and hips amongst other things, She proved that being womanly is truly more appealing than being a waif, And for that I thank her.  I doubt there will ever be another woman to fill her shoes when she finally passes on the torch but here's hoping there are more like Pam too come in the future. Blaxploitation has a Queen and her name is Coffy . Many have tried but none can pull off the femme fatale better than this lovely lady. I dare anyone to try and prove me wrong on that one.

         So, you all know what kind of site this is by now folks. So here is some eye candy in the form of Pam  Grier......In my opinion one of the sexiest women to ever grace the silver screen. Even to this day she is beautiful and proves that "Black don't crack"

It's easy to see why she was one of my biggest crushes growing up and I will always have that spot in my heart reserved for this gorgeous specimen. Thanks for the sweet dreams Pam you are the best!