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  Friday Foster What A Picture
Year: 1975
Director: Arthur Marks
Stars: Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto, Thalmus Rasulala, Julius Harris, Carl Weathers, Eartha Kitt, Godfrey Cambridge, Ted Lange, Tierre Turner, Paul Benjamin, Scatman Crothers, Rosalind Miles, Jim Backus
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Friday Foster (Pam Grier) is a top magazine photographer who is called by her boss one New Year's Eve to get down to the airport to take pictures of millionaire businessman Blake Tarr (Thalmus Rasulala). Unexpectedly, Friday finds herself in the middle of a shootout when there's an assassination attempt on Tarr, and she photographs of one of the gunmen. Covering a fashion show the next day, her model friend is murdered - but what's the connection?

Based on the newspaper comic strip of the same name, this blaxploitation adventure was scripted by Orville Hampton, and represented a move away from the usual action movies Pam Grier had been in. This time, she wasn't out for revenge or coldly killing every villain she met, here she was more of a Lois Lane character, getting herself into and out of dangerous situations with ingenuity rather than relying on firepower. She leaves the violence to her right hand man, private detective Colt (Yaphet Kotto), keeps her wits about her and has a neat line in fast-talking.

There's a light-hearted feel to this film, despite the amount of corpses that pile up, and Grier looks as if she's really enjoying the role. Friday is bright and bubbly, an independent woman with a heart of gold who is not above joking around (watch for her Bela Lugosi impression). The other characters are all idiosyncratically portrayed: Eartha Kitt (who's pretty idiosyncratic anyway) as fashion designer Madame Rena and her flamboyant rival, Godfrey Cambridge, are the height of camp, Scatman Crothers is a womanising reverend, and even Colt breaks off from a chase on foot to wonder what he's doing.

Friday uses whatever she has to hand in the pursuit of the mysterious Black Widow, who seems to be behind the plot to assassinate the most powerful black leaders in the country. This leads her to mix with millionaires, and you feel a bit sorry for the loyal Colt, who does a lot of the hard work while not getting so much as a peck on the cheek, while Friday is off seducing the rich and influential. She also has a habit of stealing unlikely vehicles for car chase scenes, like a hearse or a milk van.

All in all, not one for the fans of the outrageous violence of Grier's other seventies movies, but keep your sense of humour and Friday Foster should leave you satisfied. There's also a moral about unity to end on, as the apparently divided black leaders join together to fend off an attack by white supremacists (although why the white racists dress up in blackface and afro wigs during their assault is anybody's guess). Music by Luchi de Jesus, which goes a bit too far in its use of electronic vocal effects.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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