FOXY BROWN (1974)
Ah, Pam Grier. She’s never been badder or sexier than she was as the revenge-seeking Foxy Brown, who infiltrates a prostitution ring to get the couple responsible for killing her boyfriend. You have Grier rocking some big-ass guns, and if that’s not good enough, then you get to enjoy lines like this: ”Death is too easy for you, bitch. I want you to suffer!”
WILLIE DYNAMITE (1974)
Pimpin’ ain’t easy. Don’t believe me? Just ask Gordon from Sesame Street! Before actor Roscoe Orman started helping Elmo teach kids their ABCs, he strutted around as a pimp in some of the most incredible fur and polyester combos, belting out lines like ”The bitches I run are selected to win!” Willie Dynamite is noteworthy for its stellar soundtrack and sweet wheels. Where else can you find a purple Cadillac with leopard skin upholstery?
DOLEMITE 2: THE HUMAN TORNADO (1976)
Dolemite is back and trying to stop some evil white people from taking over a nightclub. Of course, the plot doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Rudy Ray Moore shows off the most ridiculous kung fu scenes ever committed to film. I’m also pretty sure this is the only movie to ever feature a sex scene cutting directly to one of the participants eating a chicken dinner.
THE AVENGING DISCO GODFATHER (1979)
Rudy Ray Moore strikes again! This time he’s playing a cop-turned-disco DJ (hey, no parking on the dance-floor over there!) who goes after the thugs who gave his nephew some bad angel dust. Not only does Rudy Ray end up coining an awesome catch phrase (”Put your weight on it!”), but this bizarre flick features some truly insane PCP-induced nightmare scenes that need to be seen to be believed. And even then you may not believe them.
Another incredible soundtrack, this one by Curtis Mayfield. Ron O’Neal plays a cocaine dealer looking for one big score to help him get out of the game. Worth it if for no other reason than quotes like this: ”You’re gonna give all this up? 8-track stereo, color TV in every room, and can snort a half a piece of dope everyday? That’s the American dream!” You just have to love a life where the 8-track was the American dream.
Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks? You know the answer. Shaft is more than just a great theme song (by Isaac Hayes, who won an Oscar for it), though — it’s also a rock solid P.I. film. Richard Roundtree’s character was the epitome of tough-guy cool with his sideburns, turtlenecks, and leather jacket — turning the tables on the mob that hired him to do their dirty work.
TRICK BABY (1972)
A salt and pepper version of The Sting featuring a white and black con team, Trick Baby is a cautionary tale with a solid story underneath all the style. The characters of Blue Howard (Mel Stewart, above left) and White Folks (Kiel Martin) make a great team, as illustrated by Blue’s assertion that ”His white skin gives us a slick edge. I catch the black marks. He catches the honkies.” That he does.
I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA (1988)
Keenan Ivory Wayans’ blaxploitation spoof remains the funniest thing he’s ever done and a pitch-perfect lampoon of the genre. Extra props for a cast featuring plenty of former stars of the genre: Antonio Fargas, Jim Brown, Isaac Hayes, and Bernie Casey. The ”Ghetto Olympics” and ”Pimp of the Year” scenes are especially inspired.
SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG (1971)
Melvin Van Peebles wrote, directed, and starred in this psychedelic and sexually explicit outing that kicked off the whole blaxploitation craze of the 1970s. The story centers around a sex dynamo named Sweetback who is on the run after he beats the crap out of two white cops. Along the way, lots of women assist him in exchange for intercourse. See, everybody wins!
Truthfully, the film is not that great — it only seems that way when compared to the vastly inferior Blackenstein: The Black Frankenstein. (Seriously, is that the most unnecessary subtitle ever, or what?) The story centers around an old African prince turned vampire who is unleashed on the streets of L.A. Fun fact: The star, William Marshall, later traded in his fangs for a crown to play The King of Cartoons on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.