Daily Archives: January 20, 2011

Shaft In Africa

Shaft in Africa

Image via Wikipedia

Directed by John Guillermin
Written by Stirling Silliphant
Starring Richard Roundtree
Frank Finlay
Neda Arnerić
Vonetta McGee
Frank McRae
Distributed by MGM
Release date June 14, 1973
Country (USA)
Running time 112 min.
Language English

Shaft In Africa is the third instalment in the Shaft trilogy of blaxploitation movies from the 1970s. This film focuses on private detective John Shaft after he has been enlisted by an African nation to bust up a slavery ring in Ethiopia and France.

This is a very 70s movie, with lots of slang from the era, much of which would have been hilarious even then. While the music is great it does not feature the iconic Theme From Shaft by Isaac Hayes which is featured in the first Shaft film. Unlike the other movies John Shaft is more like a black James Bond than what we expect.

Shaft In Africa was the least successful of the Shaft films and was panned by critics. I guess that the reason for this is because Shaft has been taken out of his regular NYC environment, with the film makers obviously trying to make this not just another blaxploitation movie. Personally I enjoyed the picture quite a bit and thought it was rather exciting. Richard Roundtree is as charismatic as ever as John Shaft, whilst one of his love (or should that be lust) interests, Aleme, played by the late Vonetta McGee, looks a lot like Beyonce in this film.

I must also make a slight mention of the cars in the film. Usually in blaxploitation movies you expect to see big, late 60s – early 70s, American V8 muscle cars that have been pimped out to the extreme, but not in Shaft In Africa. At the start of the film Shaft is seen driving and Alfa Romeo GTA, whilst the French villain Amafi drives a Citroen DS. At the end there are also a number of Renault 8s.

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Foxy Brown

Cover of "Foxy Brown"

Cover of Foxy Brown

Directed by Jack Hill
Produced by Buzz Feitshans
Written by Jack Hill
Starring Pam Grier
Antonio Fargas
Peter Brown
Terry Carter
Music by Willie Hutch
Cinematography Brick Marquard
Editing by Chuck McClelland
Distributed by AIP
Release date April 5, 1974
Running time 94 min
Country United States
Language English

Foxy Brown is one of blaxploitation’s most iconic films, featuring Pam Grier in the title role, but it is I think a little too over the top with its gratuitiveness, especially with the violence perpetuated towards Foxy. I know that exploitation films are supposed to feature lots of sex, violence and nudity, but the scenes of Foxy being held captive at the farm I felt were something that made me a little uneasy and that the film’s makers had gone a wee bit too far.

Still other than that complaint the film is entertaining and does feature all the hallmarks of a good blaxploitation movie; Pam Grier, 70s fashion, big afros and lots of funky soul music. Sure the acting is terrible in some parts and the dialogue does tend to be a bit clichéd and awkward at times, but I still enjoyed the film mostly.