Monday, June 21, 2021

Pam Grier Watch: Friday Foster (1975)

Watched:  06/20/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:   Arthur Marks

Friday Foster (1975) comes late in Pam Grier's starring roles in the "blaxploitation" cycle of films.  Curiously, it's also based on a comic strip that ran from 1970-74, which I plan to track down.  But - as you can see by the release date on the movie, the strip was defunct by the time the movie arrived.

From what I saw on the internet, the strip and movie had some things in common, but reversed the course of Friday's career - making her start as a model and wind up as a photographer/ reporter for Glance Magazine.  

If you're like me and hear "Pam Grier" and respond with "Sure, I'll watch at least part of that", this movie is decidedly less gritty than some other efforts.  In fact, the movie feels like it could have been rated PG had it not contained ample and needless nudity.  Everything else is movie-action-violence, minus a few extra squibs here and there.

What's most remarkable about the movie is the amount of name and "that guy!" talent assembled in the film.  So it's kind of a telling point that Pam Grier headlines and what Hollywood thought of her in 1975.  

  • Pam Grier
  • Yaphet Kotto
  • Godfrey Cambridge
  • Eartha Kitt
  • Scatman Crothers
  • Ted Lange
  • Paul Benjamin
  • Jason Bernard
  • Julius Harris
  • the Carl Weathers in a very early first or second film
And, for good measure, Jim Backus as a crooked old white dude.

I mean, there's more folks, but those were the people I immediately was like "huh, AND that guy?"  So, just to see all of these people working together on a single movie is no small deal.  Minus Backus, the film stars almost entirely Black characters.  And, as it turns out as the plot unwinds, the movie refers to and is concerned with the issues of the Black community as defined in 1975, but isn't irrelevant in 2021.

Add in a central character who is not just a woman, but a smart, dedicated woman-of-action out to solve a mystery that goes all the way to the top, and it's kinda really something.  

Does the film entirely make sense?  I mean, here's the truth - I started watching the movie 4 months ago, the February freeze happened and I forgot all about it.  Tonight I noticed it was still on my DVR, and was like "heck yeah" and jumped right in without missing a beat.  But that doesn't mean the movie isn't a bit of nonsense.  I don't really get what the secondary bad-guy was getting for participating.  And the final action sequence looks like adults running around a summer camp and some of the least motivated black-face to ever appear on film.

OH WELL.  It's a 46 year old movie, and is mostly worth watching for the cast, a snapshot of 1975, and Pam Grier looking terrific in a variety of outfits that I think people in 2021 would murder for.

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