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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shaft's a bad mutha. . .Shut yo' mouth!

I'm 34 years old. So, when the original Shaft was released, I wasn't even a twinkle in my mom's eyes. After all, she had just given birth to my older sister. However, she was a huge fan of Richard Roundtree and his iconic character John Shaft.

Because of her and my cool Daddy, who had a John Shaft leather coat, I became a fan of the Gordon Parks film. Shaft was that dude. A sexy black man solving crimes, kicking ass and romancing the ladies.
40 years later, this movie is still one of the best pieces of cinema out there. Let's forget about John Singleton's horrid remake with Sam Jackson in the title role.
What made Shaft an iconic character was the fact that he was a black man making his own rules, talking shit to white folks and doing it all with style.
He made women fall in love with him and no one wears leather like John Shaft. (Sorry PETA)

Some people call this "blaxplotation" but movies like Shaft and Foxy Brown led the way for big budget action films that make millions for Hollywood. As a matter of fact, Shaft saved MGM, according to Wikipedia.
The film was one of only three profitable movies that year for MGM, grossing what Time magazine called an "astonishing" $13 million on a budget of $500,000. It not only spawned several years of "blaxploitation" action films, it earned enough money to save then-struggling MGM from bankruptcy.
If you look at Shaft and then take a look a current action films, you can see the influences. Shaft, who was billed as being cooler than James Bond even put a mark on the franchise. Live and Let Die, the eighth Bond film released in 1973, was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of so-called blaxplotation films.

 It was also the first James Bond film featuring an African American Bond girl to be romantically involved with 007, Rosie Carver, who was played by Gloria Hendry.

Hollywood should be thanking Shaft for laying the foundation for sexy and sarcastic heroes. Shaft should be re-released in theaters ASAP! I'd be right there wearing my Daddy's Shaft leather coat too.

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