Freak beat, loungecore, 60's French chicks, exotica funk, Bollywood, big band, ye ye, psychedelic bubblegum, kooky Japanese, spy themes, bossa nova, blaxploitation, hipster grooves, sunshine pop, Euro beats, Chinatowns. As well as contemporary artists who delve retro. Music & film related.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Directed by: Gilbert Moses
Starring: Roscoe Orman, Diana Sands,
Thalmus Rasula, Joyce Walker.

Soundtrack by: J.J. Johnson
Original release date: 01/01/1974
105 mins

This was the first blaxploitation soundtrack that I bought back in the mid 80s, yet remained one of the last of the films for me to actually see. I relented many years ago when a pan & scan version came my way because I figured that it would have to get a DVD release in due time.

It's different from most blaxploitation films, even though visually it looks like it would be a straight action flick, it has a deeper story that carries the film past its unfairly placed b-grade category. Willie (Roscoe Orman) is pure Americana. He's a pimp & a capitalist who is always trying to profit on his bevy of beauties, unfortunately for him the local pimp union wants to get in on some of his action, while the cops just want to bring him down. Meanwhile an old flame from years gone by has returned, but as a social worker who wants the girls to change their ways & to also save Willie from a self-destructive & morally bankrupt path. Race is never a factor in the film & there is no element of kill whitey. It's more or less a character study on a flamboyant personality from an era when pimpology was looked on as a cool thing. Though the fact that Three 6 Mafia's song about a pimp won the best song award at The 2006 Oscars seems too imply that we might still be glamourising a calling that is fraught with conflicting qualities. Its a great film & rises well above its perceived status.

Yes, for you astute viewers that is Gordon of Sesame Street as Willie the pimp. It definitely threw me for a curve. The only actor of note who went onto bigger things was the engagingly named Thalmus Rasulala. You'll spot him in other blaxplo type of films such as Cool Breeze, Blacula, Friday Foster, Bucktown, Mr Ricco & the more gentle Cornbread Earl & Me. Loads of TV shows, but probably well know for playing Kunta Kinta's father in the classic mini-series Roots. One of his last roles was in New Jack City as the Police Commissioner. He died of a heart attack the same year.

The excellent cinematography, filmed on location in Manhattan, was due to to late Frank Stanley. A onetime D.O.P. on a few Clint Eastwood films, including Magnum Force & Thunderbolt & Lightfoot.

Jazz trombonist & composer J.J. Johnson provided the score, (which includes the b-boy favourite Willie's Chase). He also was one of the guest composers on the 70s Buck Rogers TV show, but then so was Les Baxter. Johnson committed suicide via a gunshot to the head in 2001 from not wanting to deal with the prostate cancer that was ruining his life.

Released by MCA/Universal Ent.
• Available here at Amazon.
• A list of other films at Sticking It To the Man.
• And here at the never updated Blaxploitation.


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