She's the Queen of Blaxploitation -- a genre largely born from the thirst of inner-city audiences for movies made by and for blacks. Pam Grier met up with Jack Hill while starring in a couple of his women-in-prison flicks, and it was Hill who directed her in Coffy just two years later. On the heels of Shaft, the flick told the story of a nurse so sickened by the scourge of drugs in her community, and their devastating effect on her own sister, that she picked up a sawed-off shotgun and decided to settle the score. Ferociously violent, the heroine used her buxom body to seduce the pushers and pimps that'd ultimately end up in her crosshairs, instead of her bed. Hill and Grier returned for the non-sequel sequel dubbed Foxy Brown (1974, 91 minutes), which further cemented the actress as the baddest mutha EVER.
The movie: Like Coffy, Foxy Brown is out for some good old-fashioned vigilante justice (a plotline white folks would later rip off in movies like Death Wish). Her man is on the right side of the law, but he knows just enough to get himself killed, even after having his face redone by a plastic surgeon. Yet all they really did was shave his moustache and goatee, so it doesn't fool the gangsters for long. Soon, he's gunned down and his body falls lifeless on Foxy's ample bosom. It's then that she silently vows to get even -- no matter how many scumbags she has to sleep with. Naturally, Foxy poses as a high-dollar prostitute in order to infiltrate a complicated ring of dope runners and corrupt politicians. Unlike the explosive opening scene of Coffy, the follow-up feature takes at least 30 minutes showing just how sensitive and loving Foxy is before finally letting her world crumble to the point she comes a-lookin for blood. Still, the remaining hour is unrelenting as the bodies begin to fall. Some victories are more savored than others, like the fiery death she inflicts on the rednecks who drugged and raped her at the behest of the queen bitch of gangsters. Foxy eventually enlists the help of seriously militant brothers to wage a final battle royal with the dope pushers, which must be seen to be believed. Genre fan and geekazoid genius director Quentin Tarantino cast Ms. Grier as the lead in his ode to the blaxploitation genre, Jackie Brown -- a film that earned Robert Forster an Oscar nomination for his role as the bail bondsman hopelessly infatuated with Jackie. CineSchlockers remember Forster from his work in every B-movie ever made -- well, practically -- most recently in the under-appreciated Uncle Sam as the crooked politico who gets turned into a human fireworks display.
Notables: Nine breasts. 12 corpses. Lesbian bar fight. Emasculation with hunting knife. Propeller puree. Hair pulling. Pickled wangdoodle.
Quotables: Foxy's brother loves his sister, "You saved my beautiful black ass!" But she doesn't approve of his so-called friends, "You think you're back in with those people, but you got a stick of dynamite up your ass and the fuse is burning!" Size matters to Ms. Brown, "I've heard of a meat shortage, but that's ridiculous!"
Time codes: James Bond-esque title sequence (:18). Foxy ably raises her recuperating beau's "spirits" (14:00). The girls do a number on a horn-dog judge (44:00). Baddie gets run over by a PLANE (1:24:54).
Audio/Video: Presented in its original widescreen (1.85:1) format. The print shows digital grain during nighttime and dimly lit scenes. Otherwise, the bright fashions of the '70s pop in vivid color. Utilitarian Dolby Digital mono track that well serves Willie Hutch's funky score. This disc is part of MGM's "Soul Cinema" line that each carry an unusually low suggested retail price ($15 and lower). The prints aren't exactly pristine, nor is any real effort spent on creating superior audio masters, but most feature trailers and the occasional commentary. Titles include Black Caesar, Coffy, Cotton Comes To Harlem, Foxy Brown, Friday Foster, Sheba, Baby, Slaughter, Slaughter's Big Rip-Off, Truck Turner and Black Mama, White Mama. Plus, the
Keenen Ivory Wayans parody of these films, I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka.
Extras: Humble and informative audio commentary by legendary B-filmmaker Jack Hill. On writing and directing black-themed movies: "Sometimes people ask me how I feel about having been involved in making blaxploitation films, and I feel it's something I really have a little pride in. That I helped in some way to bring about a consciousness of black characters and black lifestyle into mainstream films -- by showing that films like [Foxy Brown] could attract what they used to call a 'crossover' audience." He also talks very candidly about how is "vision" was usurped by studio bosses. They said there was no money in sequels, so the character of Coffy was set aside and Jack's script had to be altered accordingly (his original title was Burn, Coffy, Burn). He speaks with reserved joy about how his films have been embraced, very much after the fact, but lamented that at a recent French film festival, which he was invited to, scenes in Foxy Brown were censored. On a lighter note, he wondered how "mother f@#$er" would translate into French. Fullframe trailer. Static menus without audio. No printed insert or liner notes.
Final thought: With Ms. Grier, even a hair pin can be the deadliest of weapons, but above all, it's her dangerous curves and fierce resolve that doom pimp and pusher alike. Excellent commentary by Mr. Hill. Highly Recommended.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.