Remember the seventies? Aright most of you probably don’t, but I do and let me tell you something, it wasn’t as great as people tell you that it is. I know between That 70s Show and the great bands of the 70s looking so good still, you’d think that the 70s were a magical time, but the real 70s were a little different than the ideal remembered.
Case in point, the wonderful movies of the seventies. No, not the big budget movies that we all still love, remember Star Wars began in the seventies, I’m talking about the dime a dozen low budget movies that made the seventies famous. That’s right, I’m talking about blaxploitation movies.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not among the whitest guys you’ll ever meet, but, hey, it’s a movie and we should all be able to watch and enjoy, right? Now, I know that the argument can be made that as a white guy I really won’t understand the subtleties that are a part of being black in America, and I won’t argue that, but, you don’t have to be white to understand movies like Death Wish or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so as a movie, I should be able to watch and enjoy too.
So I started with Superfly, the legendary movie that we’ve all heard of but most have never seen. Superfly is the story of what we would now call a player, but in the seventies they were called hustlers. Now our hero, Priest is a hustler, he sells drugs, but he’s tired of the game and wants out, the problem is, once you’re in the drug game no one wants to let you out. Well, Priest decides that if he can make one more huge score he can take his share of the money and leave his partner in charge and disappear. His plan is convoluted and many people stand in his way, for no reason really other than, they don’t want to let him go. And as in most blaxploitation movies, the ‘bad’ guys keeping Priest from giving up hustling are white cops on the take. It seems that after the civil rights movement of the 60s, black filmmakers got their revenge by making most of the bad guys in their movies white guys. Aren’t you glad that times have changed and now in movies the bad guys are Arab? So, after many chase scenes and many fight scenes, some of which have no purpose at all, our hero has his money and is leaving the country to retire.
Now the story doesn’t end there, because Superfly captured an audience and there was sequel. That’s right Superfly TNT. Now, the TNT doesn’t stand for explosive…believe me. It stands for Priest’s favorite saying, “taint no trouble”. TNT was written by a pre Roots Alex Haley, so there was talent involved, but it really is a bad story. Priest is retired in Rome where African rebels who are trying to free their country approach him. But they can’t get guns for some reason that really isn’t explained. So they turn to Priest to use his former drug connections to get guns for their cause.
Well Priest is retired and doesn’t want to get back into ‘the life’. But after an extra long music montage, in which, apparently, Priest has made a trip to Africa, he changes his mind. So he gets the guns. You think it might end there, but apparently Priest also has travel connections, apparently, and they need him to get the guns into the country as well. Well, long story short, the guns get there, but Priest gets captured and beaten up by, you guessed it; white guys who would make Nazis look like relaxed guys. But this gives Priest a reason to get his revenge on the bad guys, because it ain’t the end until the bad guys are beaten down, it’s the law of the movies! But, sadly, for me, it was too little, too late. It’s the most exciting scene in the movie and it doesn’t take place until the last fifteen minutes.
So, remember the 70s as warmly as you’d like, but take a look at Superfly and Superfly TNT and remember that things moved a little slower back then, which sometimes isn’t a bad thing, but we’ll have to take them on a case by case basis!