Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Olive Films - COFFY, FOXY BROWN, FRIDAY FOSTER and HAMMER on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Olive Films - COFFY, FOXY BROWN, FRIDAY FOSTER and HAMMER on Blu-ray

COFFY (1973; Jack Hill)
COFFY is a seminal classic of blaxploitation cinema and a truly wonderful showcase for Pam Grier. If memory serves, it was the first Pam Grier movie I ever saw. Pam Grier is, to me, one of the sexiest ladies in all of cinema and she looks positively radiant here. COFFY preceded FOXY BROWN and is for me the superior of the two movies, both directed by Jack Hill. COFFY is probably Pam Grier's best movie next to Tarantino's JACKIE BROWN. Tarantino has always aptly said that Jack Hill was von Sternberg to Pam Grier's Dietrich and this film was their third collaboration. This time out, play plays the titular Coffy and she is a lady on a mission. Her younger sister has been crippled by drug addiction and is forced to live in a rehabilitation home. Coffy has decided to start to infiltrate the local drug trade in attempt to find her way to the top and stop the madness. It's something of a naive pursuit, but that slows her not at all. Within the first 10 minutes, she's blown the head off of a drug deal with a sawed-off shotgun. It's quite a start to a movie and things continue to escalate. COFFY is an interesting blaxploitation movie in that it is sharply written by Jack Hill (s his films often were) and contains more than you'd expect from your standard revenge story. It has political undertones and observations that are still quite prescient today and an ending that is more thoughtful than it has any right to be.
And Let's talk about pimps for a second. Few films ever made contain the amazingness of Robert DoQui's King George the Pimp. King George is one heckuva snappy dresser and even has his own theme song (which is fantastic)! This theme song will get stuck in your head for days after. Actually all the music will get stuck in your head. There's one great piece of music that Tarantino smartly lifted for JACKIE BROWN and it is glorious. I've literally had it in my head for a week now. Have a listen:



The transfer on this disc looks good, no special features.

FOXY BROWN (1974; Jack Hill)
From the opening strains of Willie Hutch's fantastic theme song through the film's dynamic credit sequence (which Greg Mottola may have cribbed for SUPERBAD), you know that FOXY is gonna be a fun time. This was Jack Hill's lightning quick followup to COFFY, and as she was in COFFY, Pam Grier is after drug dealin' folks again in FOXY(which is a sort of paraphrased remake of the former). As she's quoted as saying here, "Vigilante justice is as American as apple pie". Foxy's boyfriend is a federal cop who has had facial reconstructive surgery after a run in with a local drug syndicate. The syndicate is still out to kill him to prevent him from testifying before a grand jury. As in COFFY, Grier has to infiltrate a prostitution ring to get to the drug people. Sure it's pretty much a retread, but it's nonetheless entertaining. It also features a quite memorable scene with an afro and a gun. Overall though, FOXY BROWN is the somewhat more mean-spirited cousin to COFFY. As dark as COFFY gets, I feel like FOXY goes a little grittier(though both films have a good amount of exploitation 'grit'). It's a pretty physically demanding role for sure for Ms. Grier and she stands up to it quite well. Also among the cast with Pam is Jack Hill regular Sid Haig. Haig and Grier did many films together and it's always a pleasure to see them sharing a scene. Sadly Haig only arrives in the last 15 mins of the movie, but some Sid is better than no Sid.
Overall, a decent entry in both Grier's and Hill's filmographies, but they've both done better. 

The transfer on this disc looks good, no special features.



FRIDAY FOSTER (1975; Arthur Marks)
As much love and attention as COFFY and FOXY BROWN get, FRIDAY FOSTER deserves a lot more in my opinion. Not to say that it is some towering example of great cinema or anything, but it has some interesting things about it. Fore one thing, it's based on a newspaper comic strip about a former fashion model turned fashion photographer. She works for a magazine called "Glance" ("The Picture Magazine") and has a grumpy boss. When he calls her up in the middle of the night to go and photograph a famous billionaire, she steps to and rushes down to LAX to do so. An assassination is attempted, which Foster gets some snaps of and she gets herself entangled in a web conspiracy. FRIDAY FOSTER was helmed by veteran director Arthur Marks. He also direct such Blaxploitation classics as J.D.'S REVENGE, BUCKTOWN, THE MONKEY HUSTLE and DETROIT 9000 (a Quentin Tarantino favorite).  He's a solid dude for sure. The supporting cast in the film is top notch. Yaphet Kotto plays a private eye and there are parts for Carl Weathers and Isaac from THE LOVE BOAT (as a charming but pushy pimp). There's also a role for Eartha Kitt (Catwoman herself!). And last but certainly not least, Scatman Crothers is here too. I have this theory about Scatman in that I believe him to be one of those actors that improves any movie he's in by his mere presence alone. Anyway, this is the Pam Grier film that get's left behind in the conversation a little bit and I think it should be re-evaluated.
The transfer on this disc looks good, no special features.



HAMMER (1972; Bruce Clark)
I don't know about you, but I have a rule for myself that basically says that if I see Williams Smith and John Quade in a movie within the first five minutes, I need to stick with it for a little while. Both those actors are such a huge part of the fabric of 70s action movies that I must roll with it and see what comes next. And extra bonus points of Fred Williamson fights John Quade in the first five minutes. That fight in particular gets him noticed at the warehouse where he's been working and he finds himself pulled into the down and dirty world of boxing (and the mob, of course). So this is, at it's core, a boxing movie. And you could do a lot worse than blaxploitation boxing movie with Fred Williamson. You can see the writing on the wall from very early as to where this film is headed, at least in terms of the Williamson character, but it's still a groovy, punchy ride.  William Smith plays a nice, creepy heavy in this flick and that's a highlight. This movie came out right at the beginning of Williamson's streak of classic blaxploitation movies. He would do BLACK CAESAR the same year and follow it with HELL UP IN HARLEM the next. THREE THE HARD WAY and BUCKTOWN weren't far behind. He was a darned hard working man in the 1970s, that's for sure. Fans of his will absolutely enjoy this movie (which I think is a little underseen like the above-mentioned FRIDAY FOSTER).
The transfer on this disc looks good, no special features.

2 comments:

Rob G said...

How do the transfers look??? Are there any special features on these?

Rupert Pupkin said...

All of them look good. All the discs are bare bones.