The physical force of nature known as Pam Grier. She may be old enough to be my mother today, but thanks to the magic of film, and particularly the technology embedded on Digital Versatile Disk, she will be twenty-five years old forever. Over the next few months I will be refreshing my memory of some the legendary blaxsploitation flicks of the seventies, most of which I think I’ve seen, though the majority of those I believe I was still in single digits sitting under my mother at the time. So let’s start things off with Miss Grier’s first headlining role as she becomes the shot gun toting ‘Coffy’, looking for revenge for her brain damaged strung out little sister.
What I’m assuming was
requirement in early seventies flicks, Pam shows her
breast in like the
first five minutes of this flick. Quite honestly,
calling what Pam
possesses ‘breasts’ is like calling the Mona Lisa a
Coffy is pretending to be a strung out dope head just so
she can get
this drug dealer alone for the sole purpose of blowing
his head off
with a shotgun. Coffy has blamed this dude for selling
his sister the
drugs that has left her a vegetable and wants to make
them ALL pay.
Miss Coffin, a nurse by trade whose real first name is
never spoken, is
a soft woman though and guilt ridden by what she has
ex-boyfriend and current police officer Carter (William
to comfort her and assures her that he’s going to do all
he can get the
men who poisoned her sister. Coffy realizes however that
most of the
cops are in on the action, and though it’s hard on her
she’s gonna handle her business herself. Carter won’t be
able to help
out anyway because after he turned down his partners
offer to get down
with the mob, they put him in a coma.
This pissed Coffy off, but she has a new man now anyways in future Congressman Howard Brusnwick (Booker Bradshaw) who had the plum role of getting to grope Pam the most in this movie. Howard just wants what is best for ‘his people’ and Coffy wants
revenge for her sister and NOW her ex-boyfriend. Coffy goes undercover and gets down with super pimp King George (Robert DoQui) posing as Jamaican call girl Mystique to stop King George from peddling his poison and get close to his supplier, Italian mobster Arturo Vitroni (Alan Arbus). Things are going swell in her plan, particularly when she gets into a big fight at a party where she kicks the collective asses of ALL of King George’s jealous girls, complete with clothes being ripped off, which gets Vitroni’s attention and makes him want her bad. But things take a turn for the worse for Coffy when her cover is blown and she learns the truth about her man Howard. Now with the game off and her life in danger, Coffy is going to have to use all the skills she has in her possession to survive AND kill all these white honky drug dealing scumbags.
Man, these movies from back in the day are a stone trip. This movie is thirty five years old and there is nothing, at least mainstream, that is as racy or as sexist, or as racist as these movies were back in the seventies. ‘On your knees Nigga Bitch!’? Don’t hear that everyday. ‘Just please me with your white body Daddy’? Some of the things these cats say and do is simply mind blowing. Nothing like have seeing a completely nude Pam Grier drop a cold drink in a completely naked dudes lap and then go down on him. In addition to Pam, which was more than enough, there were naked woman all OVER the place in this work of art. They took exploitation serious as HELL back in the day.
As far as the movie itself, well let’s just say the Pam Grier, at least in 1973, wasn’t exactly Cicely Tyson when it came to acting. Ms. Grier is damn fine actress now, but back then… let’s just say she had to rely on other things to get by. The narrative, as it were, was pretty brain dead as Coffy was one of the worst undercover nurses ever with her awful Jamaican accent, which she completely abandoned after a couple of scenes which probably should have tipped off poor King George, who got his ass lynched in this movie, that she was trouble. All of the characterizations in the flick were broad and shallow, the plot swung wildly out of control, and very little of the story followed any kind of logic or reason. But it is blaxsploitation, so what do you expect. Watching Sid Haig chew up scenery as only he can do is always fun to observe – as he is still doing just that today, listening to Booker Bradshaw beg Coffy for his life, ending every sentence with a whispering ‘baby’ is simply classic. ‘But I love you baby’ ‘I didn’t think they’d really kill you baby’, and of course there’s Miss Grier. Cate Blanchett she may not have been, but you try taking your eyes off of her. We call that ‘screen presence’ my friends.
‘Coffy’ is no masterpiece of modern cinema, or maybe it is... who knows... but it does hold a certain place in the annals of movie history. Next on the list ‘Three the Hard Way’.