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

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