1975 was about the tail end of the Blaxploitation film wave. Shaft came out just a few years before breaking ground with an award-winning musical score by Isaac Hayes, reasonably strong acting by Richard Roundtree and Moses Gunn and Direction by photojournalist, Gordon Parks.
Following Shaft’s success, a number of films rushed in to ride its coattails – some good and some … well, pretty close to awful – but almost all accompanied by amazing soundtracks. A year after Shaft, Superfly, also by Gordon Parks, brought Curtis Mayfield for a solid title track and Pusherman among others.
That same year, Across 110th street, was released accompanied by one of my favorite theme songs by Bobby Womack (skip to 5:00 for the music):
This genre introduced, and made a star of Pam Grier, who could do no wrong as Coffy and Foxy Brown, placing a strong black woman center stage effectively combining blaxploitation and feminism in one package.
But, by 1975, Rudy Ray Moore entered putting Dolemite on the big screen in a disjointed, poorly produced movie that put gratuitous sex, some of the worst language you can imagine, and fight choreography that makes middle school stage productions proud of their work. (By the way, for me to find language objectionable, things have to be pretty far off the deep end.) Visible boom mikes and unintentionally hilarious dialog elevate Dolemite to cult status and end the run of good blaxploitation films.
Thanks to my new favorite network (El Rey), I got to enjoy an evening of furry pimp hats, gunplay and Kung Fu. Dolemite is so bad, it’s a blast to watch. Not to mention that I got to see about seventeen commercials for the Bullseye Pee Pad and Pee Terminator spray (designed so you don’t have to bend over!!)