Friday, 19 July 2013

MOVIE: Foxy Brown (1974)

"It Looks Like A Pickle Jar..."

Following my recent review of "Sugar Hill", this is shaping up to be a bit of a 70's black cinema mini-season, as coincidentally this popped through my letterbox as my next rental.

This time, it's Pam Grier taking centre stage. Having become a star the previous year in Jack Hill's "Coffy", she reunited with the same director for this, originally slated to be a sequel before AIP changed their mind and it was hastily rewritten as a separate flick.

As the title character, Grier is trying to help her dope dealer brother Link (Antonio Fargas, of Huggy Bear fame) go straight. It just so happens that her boyfriend Dalton (Terry Carter) is a cop undergoing plastic surgery to avoid being found by the drug pushers he has been pursuing. After falling out with his bosses, Link thinks he has found a way back into their good books when he figures out Dalton's true identity and stitches him up big time. When her man gets knocked off, Foxy decides to deal out some justice of her own...

Posing as a call girl, she works her way into a drugs and prostitution racket run by the suitably bitchy Katherine (Katherine Loder) and her typical early 70's lothario other half Steve (Peter Brown), who it becomes apparent has a wondering eye. Foxy befriends another call girl, Claudia (Juanita Brown, in one of her handful of credits before retiring prematurely from the screen in 1977), and attempts to help her get her life back on track before sowing the seeds of her targets' demise.

There follows some top notch revenge moments, a sequence where Foxy is held captive in a dingy cabin (like a trashy version of The Perils Of Pauline), and the setting-up of drug running pilot Hays (the ubiquitous Sid Haig) before Foxy gets her final revenge by... well, all I'll say is you be laughing and grimacing at the same time.

Foxy Brown is arguably not quite as good a flick as the aforementioned Coffy - it's not in quite the same gear (but not far off), and the sheer novelty factor isn't quite as strong second time around, but it's still a solid entertainment, and Foxy is still one of the iconic poster girls of this enjoyable chapter in early 70's cinema. Consider the more recent references to her: Beyonce Knowles' Foxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers: Goldmember, Loretta Devine's Reese watching the film on her security monitors and copying Foxy's moves in Urban Legend, Quentin Tarantino's own rehash of the form with Grier in Jackie Brown... Foxy's a legend.

Purple Rating: 8/10

FOOTNOTE: Thanks to Arrow Films' Blu-Ray release, you can now enjoy Foxy in High Definition! It's a great presentation overall, with a superb transfer image from a nice print. Only minor quibble: the soundtrack level seems somewhat variable, but otherwise a solid set with extras including a commentary from Jack Hill, an interview with Sid Haig and a featurette on early 70's black cinema featuring none other than Fred "The Hammer" Williamson. (I will be discussing some of his work in due course)

US 1974 - American International Pictures

Certificate: X/18 (UK - It almost made it onto the infamous video nasties list in the 1980's before 2m48s were cut - these cuts have now been waived)

92 minutes

DVD/Blu-ray releases:
Arrow Films (UK)

Original Trailer

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