In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_pride_ver2

Pride

Takes a formulaic approach but is ultimately very effective in its retelling of the fundraising activities of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. Would make…

Thumb_boxtrolls_ver13

The Boxtrolls

"The Boxtrolls" is a beautiful example of the potential in LAIKA's stop-motion approach, and the images onscreen are tactile and layered. But, as always, it's…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Coffy

Coffy Movie Review
  |  

“Coffy” is a marriage between a soft-core skin flick and a blaxploitation movie; with a couple of new twists: (1) it’s against drugs, and (2) it has a girl for a hero. Two of the more common elements in recent commercial black movies have been their willingness to glorify drug pushers, and their almost total disregard for women.

The typical woman’s role in a black exploitation movie, up to now, has involved maybe one bedroom scene right at the beginning, where she’s making love with her man and his telephone rings. Right away, he’s on the case. She pulls the sheets up--not too far--and asks him to stay, but, no, he’s got man’s work to do.

The girl then essentially has nothing to do until the end of the movie, when she gets to welcome the hero back to bed. If she is lucky enough to have a scene in the middle, it’s probably designed to feed male chauvinist egos. She either gets to take her man a weapon when he needs one, or, occasionally, she gets to be held captive by the Mafia-pig-rackets boss-racists-opposition gang-rival-drug pusher until her hero can come smashing through the window and blow everybody to pieces with his thirty-aught-eight.

The nice thing about “Coffy” is that it neatly reverses this formula, and gives us Pam Grier as the hero. She is a young actress of beautiful face and astonishing form, who has previously been seen in the kinds of movies frequented only by demented creeps and movie critics: “Women in Cages” and “Black Mama, White Mama.” “Coffy” is slightly more serious and a little more inventive than it needs to be, and gives her a good reason for getting involved in violence with the mob: Her older sister’s a hustler, her brother is on smack and her little 11-year-old sister is in the hospital after shooting some bad stuff. Coffy sees clearly that drugs are bad and that the chain of responsibility runs out of the ghetto. At one point in the movie she’s asked if she wants to kill everyone involved in the trade. “Why not?” she says, and lets go with her shotgun.

None of this is of overwhelming importance, I suppose; exploitative black movies, like all formula movies, begin to seem much the same after a while (although no formula in history has been able to repeat itself with such grim determination as the new kung-fu fist movies.) What makes “Coffy” interesting is Miss Grier herself (she is, by the way, Roosevelt Grier’s sister.)

She’s beautiful, as I’ve already mentioned, but she also has a kind of physical life to her that is sometimes missing in beautiful actresses. She doesn’t seem to be posing or doing the fashion-model bit; she gets into an action role and does it right. And she has great cleavage, too. In these days of instant total hard-core nudity, it’s refreshing to see a mere low neckline once in a while. What would we do without the R rating?

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Unloved, Part Ten: "The Village"

Part ten in Scout Tafoya's The Unloved series tackles "The Village."

Why my video essay about "All that Jazz" is not on the Criterion blu-ray

Bob Fosse's masterpiece "All That Jazz" jumps back and forth through the past and the present, and through memory and...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus