Skip to main content

CLEOPATRA JONES

USA, 1973 (MIFF 1998, Funky! Freaky! Foxy! - Blaxploitation Cinema)

Director: Jack Starett

The most camp of all Blaxploitation flicks. 70s in style - 60s in tone. Hollywood's typical decade-lag makes this a stew of funky fun. Everyone tries to be real mean - especially Tamara Dobson, a 6 foot plus Vogue glamour model. Pre-Grace Jones. The streets are dressed as if it's a fashion shoot. Cleo struts them like catwalks. Baby, she's a star. Her Corvette custom number plate reads: CLEO - US Government, and, like all good Blaxploitation stars, she thinks she can do karate. In platforms! Batman in drag, hardcore LA style. Antonio Fargas shines as Doodlebug, freaked over his hair while maintaining a mansion with a white British chauffeur. Shelly Winters beams as Momma, the campest dyke drug runner ever. The dialogue is 30% heroin jive, 30% crooked cop talk, 40% fashion notes. Everyone moves with impossible style. Everyone cracks one-liners. Trail bikes. Soft lenses. Record player cartridges. Black power posters. Hoop earrings. Op Art paintings. Mail order wigs. Deep Throat. The LA stormwater drains. Fur coats. Junk yards. Right on. - Philip Brophy

See also...

THREE THE HARD WAY

Three cities: LA, Washington and Detroit. Cesspools of the 70s urban black. A pseudo-Nazi plan will cleanse these American citadels of the Negroid gene. Their water supplies will be injected with a ... More »

BLACK CAESAR

Larry Cohen's two Blaxploitation flicks - Black Caesar and Hell Up in Harlem - are often accused of ripping off the genre whitey-style. But Cohen is a sharp genre-crossing exploitation master. He ... More »

THE MACK

Never has a film lionised the sex industry to such an extent. And despite its down tone, it's deadly serious. Max Julien - not exactly a good-lookin' dude - struts around embarrassingly in definitive ... More »

SHAFT

Times Square. The Sony logo. Marquees: He and She, The Animal, School for Sex, The Wild Females. 1971. Welcome to New York City in 35mm winter. Turf of John Shaft - or that smooth-skinned ... More »

THE BLACK GESTAPO

The black community with the aid of white money forms the People's Army. In some white eyes, that could only spell - The Black Gestapo. Whitey wears plaid leisure suits and white loafers. Brothers ... More »

TRUCK TURNER

No doubt. Truck Turner is the best Blaxploitation film. Many come near but this one rides high on top. This is Issac Hayes (Mack 'Truck' Turner) inside and out: from his dropped-octave murmuring to ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director