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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

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