Let’s continue Black History Month with a little crime action film directed by Gordon Parks and written by Ernest Tidyman and John D.F. Black. I’m talkin’ about Shaft. Can you dig it?
Adapted from Ernest Tidyman’s novel of the same name, “Shaft” (1971) stars Richard Roundtree in his first leading role as private detective John Shaft. Hired by Harlem mobster, “Bumpy” Jonas, Shaft sets on his quest to rescue the mob leader’s beautiful daughter, whose been kidnapped by the Italian mafia.
From the films electric opening credits and first lick of its funky theme song, this one hour and forty minute blaxploitation piece of artistry grabs your attention and keeps it. Mixed with choreographed fight scenes, shoot outs, and jive talk, the picture deals with major themes such as race relations, the Black Power Movement, and sexuality. After its premiere on June 25, 1971, this film was a crossover hit with both black and white audiences. It soon became one of the most successful films in the genre, grossing 12 million dollars, and winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972. MGM, the film's distributor, would go on to produce two more films, Shaft's Big Score! (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973). Neither would reach the heights of the first movie. The best in my opinion.
So, if you are ready for a war between Hood against Hood and some supercharged ass kicking moves, then grab an expresso with a little sparkle of garlic. “Shaft” can be viewed for $2.99 on YouTube, AppleTV, and Amazon Prime.
Stay loose, baby!