Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Blaxploitation One-Two Punch

After revisiting Jackie Brown, it seemed appropriate to run a blaxploitation double feature. So let's cover a couple of quickies.
Note: I will not be addressing the terrible joke of this title.
Black Eye (1974) saw Fred Williamson as the former cop turned private investigator, Stone, whose investigation into a murdered friend turns into a chase for a dead movie star's cane while also searching for a missing girl. Could the two cases be connected?  Of course they are, but it takes a long, loose, and seedy trip behind the scenes of 70's Hollywood glam, through porn sets, "psychics", hippie Jesus freaks and an informant named "Worm" to get there.

Despite the giallo-esque elements of the poster up there, Black Eye is an enjoyable if by-the-numbers 70's mystery that probably could've benefited from some of that gothic atmosphere. In many ways, it reminded me of a 70's version of The Big Sleep, though Stone is no Philip Marlowe.  Having said that, however, Fred's just as handsome and charming as ever, and his general charisma carries the picture through the slow or rough patches.  I've seen Fred do better, but I've also seen Fred do far worse.  The most entertaining aspect was to spot various familiar locations around Los Angeles starting with the main entrance to the Venice Boardwalk.

There was a fair share more of this tour of LA's past to be found in Rudy Ray Moore's return as Dolemite, The Human Tornado (1976).  Successful stand-up act, Dolemite, is donating his money and his home as a children's shelter when the small town sheriff performs a raid on the benefit party. Dolemite and his buddies skip town for Los Angles where they find nightclub owner Queen Bee embroiled in a war with rival nightclub gangsters. Naturally, it's time for Dolemite to bust a lot of kung fu ass-whoopin's to settle the score.

The plot of dueling nightclubs in many ways has a mighty resemblance to Moore's Petey Wheatstraw  only without the supernatural angle (although there is a witch woman that reminded me of the PCP hallucinations from Disco Godfather (1979)). It's the usual fast, loose, and often disconnected Rudy Ray Moore effort (whatever happened to the kids' shelter?) with stand-up, musical numbers, the world's funniest kung fu noises, and occasionally some plot.  Off the top of my head, there are two moments that will decide whether you can enjoy this movie: 1) The lead character displaying his name on a large flowing cape in the opening credits, and 2) a climatic shoot-out which results in the lead character's being shot only to invoke the name of the movie and walk away. Now, can you dig it?

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