Jerry Buss: He was no Arthur Marx.
Today legendary Lakers owner Jerry Buss passed away at age 80. Balladeer’s Blog will save the in-depth examinations of his career to those who are far better qualified to do it. Instead I will offer a fond farewell to one of the most beloved owners in professional sports in my usual oddball way: with a look at the one and only film turned out by Jerry Buss Productions.
That film was 1974’s Black Eye, one of the countless blaxploitation flicks of the 1970s. Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, the action hero of all manner of the decade’s blaxploitationers, from gangster dramas to westerns, starred in Black Eye as (what else) a private eye. Williamson portrayed Shep Stone, an L.A. detective trying to solve a series of murders centered around an elaborate walking stick formerly owned by a legendary silent film star. A prostitute stole the walking stick and wound up dead in an incident that served as the catalyst for Shep Stone’s involvement in Continue reading
I have been getting emails asking me to comment on the Quentin Tarantino reboot of Django in his new movie Django Unchained. I already did, months ago. Below is the link for the interested parties now that there is so much discussion of Jamie Foxx’s comments going on.
My view on the Django phenomenon also included a look at ALL the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s Django flicks plus my tongue-in-cheek biography of Django.
It all started, however, with the review where I examined the original Django and two blaxploitation westerns about a former slave blowing away former Confederates in the Wild West.
FOR THAT REVIEW CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2012/08/08/the-original-django-and-two-blaxploitation-westerns-a-primer-for-django-unchained/
The upcoming release of Quentin Tarantino’s reboot of the seminal Spaghetti Western saga Django wreaked some minor havoc with my recent Frontierado holiday posts. I had been working on a draft for a review of the original Django and its central figure contrasted with other EuroWestern heroes like Charles Bronson’s Harmonica, Gianni Garko’s Sartana, Terence Hill’s Trinity, Tony Anthony’s Stranger and of course Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name.
I also had a draft in progress for a review of two blaxploitation westerns from the 1970s which featured a former slave turned gunslinger taking on former Confederates in the Wild West.
A few days before I was to publish those reviews the airwaves and the web started crawling with what seemed like ’round the clock trailers for Django Unchained, Tarantino’s reboot of the story, this time with the title figure an African American who goes from slavery to a career as a bounty hunter gunning down southern rednecks in the Wild West.
Instantly my two reviews, right down to AN ACTUAL JOKE I WROTE THAT, ASTONISHINGLY ENOUGH, SHOWS UP IN THE TRAILER FOR DJANGO UNCHAINED, seemed like Continue reading
In Balladeer’s Blog’s fourth look at blaxploitation films from the 1970’s I’ll examine some of the pulp-action heroines. I’ve already covered Pam Grier’s various characters in a previous post, plus I dealt with Syreena, the leader of the black female biker gang in Darktown Strutters in my post on blaxploitation films that transcended their genre. “Sugar” Hill and her legion of zombies were addressed in my Halloween post on blaxploitation horror films. Christy Love is not included because as a television character she lacked the edginess of her big-screen sisters.
4. VELVET SMOOTH (1976) – Along with The Guy From H.A.R.L.E.M. this film occupies the very bottom of the blaxploitation action barrel. It also sports one of the least memorable theme songs from a category of movies known for their kickass songs and music.
Johnnie Hill plays the title heroine, a private eye who finds herself hired by a drug kingpin called King Lathrop to find out who’s behind the masked goons moving in on his territory. The plot jumps all over the place, however, and the film’s efforts at presenting action scenes are utterly ridiculous. The characters move very, very slowly but the scenes are not in slow motion. Instead it’s just that the actors, who obviously weren’t skilled martial artists, look like they’re concentrating so hard on their choreography that their moves are comically sluggish. At other times the Continue reading
Previously Balladeer’s Blog has examined blaxploitation horror films as well as some blaxploitation films that transcended their genre. This time around I’ll take a look at Pam Grier’s 4 best films from the body of work that prompted Ebony magazine to call her “the Mocha Mogul of Hollywood” in the 1970’s.
4. SHEBA, BABY (1975) – Pam plays private detective Sheba Shayne in this thoroughly enjoyable actioner. When white gangsters are leaning on the savings and loan run by her old flame, Sheba heads home and uses her gun and her fists to put the bad guys in their place.
Some of the most highly stylized stunt work in Pam’s films is on display in Sheba, Baby. Any Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson movie from the decade would have been proud of the action-packed finale, which features plenty of Continue reading
Blaxploitation films are often dismissed by serious film students in the same way that Spaghetti Westerns are. Despite the widespread assumption that blaxploitation flicks were about nothing but the Three P’s – pimps, pushers and prostitutes – the reality is that many of them dealt with explosive issues in a way that mainstream filmmakers of the time would have shied away from. Here are eight examples that featured a premise or an approach that truly pushed the envelope.
8. FORCE FOUR (1975) – Also released under the unimaginative title Black Force, this film had an ingenious premise but its flawed delivery makes you wish someone would remake it.
The movie featured four covert operators with various commando and martial arts skills. The quartet, the “Force Four” of the title, were mercenaries specializing in stealing various artifacts that were plundered from African nations during the colonial period.
Force Four would retrieve those artifacts from wealthy customers of black market art and relics and then return them to their clients – the African governments who wanted those items restored to their proper place. Think Mission: Impossible films crossed with the Lara Croft flicks for a comparison.
Unfortunately the incredibly low budget Continue reading
When it comes to the tasteless but enjoyably bad blaxploitation horror films of the 1970’s it seems like the lion’s share of the attention always goes to Blacula and its sequel, Scream, Blacula, Scream with a little attention left over for Ganja and Hess, since it features the African American hero from the original Night of the Living Dead in one of his few screen appearances.
In honor of the Halloween season Balladeer’s Blog will take a look at some of the neglected blaxploitation horror movies, all of which deserve to have a larger audience than just me and my fellow bad movie geeks. It’s in the spirit of my recent list of The Eleven Most Neglected Bad Movie Classics For Halloween, but for this list I’ll go in descending order:
1. BLACKENSTEIN (1973) – This was one of the first flicks to try and cash in on the coattails of the surprise hit Blacula. A mad scientist named Dr Stein is conducting unspeakable experiments in human genetics. A Vietnam vet who has lost both arms and both legs in the war is Dr Stein’s next guinea pig. He restores the man’s limbs but Continue reading