Baadasssss Cinema (2002) - full transcript

Filmmaker Isaac Julien uses film clips and interviews to illustrate the history of the so-called "blaxploitation" genre.

Blaxploitation cinema

Really offered something that
hadn't existed before

They got into areas that other movies
didn't but crime novels did

If there were more than
five blacks on a corner

They considered it a riot so
they'd bring out the dogs

And they'd turn the water hoses on,
all this stuff was still happening in the 70s, man

And if you fought back
you went straight to jail

The only way we could get away with it
was on the screen

The fear was that black powers might have to come
from the barrel of a gun

this is...



like a black hollywood

My first exposure to blaxploitation films

Downtown L.A, in that whole Broadway area with all
the old theaters and everything

that was like a black Hollywood

Now all those big theaters
up and down the street

Every film was a Blaxploitation film

They had a big thing there with "Hitman"
with a picture of Bernie Casey on it

And "The Mack" you know, a picture of
Max Julien on the marquee

I felt like I was in a black world

every theater was a Blaxploitation film

It's like going to this theater and

Everybody is talking through it and they're making fun of it buddy.
They're like, oh suck my dick...

Fuck you motherfucker.

All right, all this shit is going on to me

I've never been to the theater

This was going on before - ma'am how old am I?
I'm in third grade

okay, maybe less and um, like wow,
this is really kind of cool and


Black gun started and then everyone shut up

Blaxploitation -

1. a commercial - minded film of the seventies
for black audiences

It just meant that they found a way to

Tap into a black audience

and we exploit the dollars
that they have

by making movies for them by them
that are about them

It didn't mean that they were exploiting our sensibilities
or anything else

it was just trying to make a dollar

in the mid 70s the early 70s

when whites and when mainstream
cinema was about


Its the Nixon era it was Watergate people
didn't feel empowered

Feminism was making men to have
to rethink the relationship

to romance and sexuality on screen

black movies and heroes one

people that could affect change
they were funny they were people

but these actors who are

Bursting with charisma and ambition laying
claim to the screen for the first time

They were not affected by the kind
of defeatist attitude

That had taken this place in pop culture.

They were about winning.

My son Tupac was greatly influenced

By the films of the of the seventies
he actually by the time he died

had amassed a collection of all of those films

he watched them as a kid and

he watched 'em over and over again
what he watched

As a kid was these films

and Bruce Lee's films and all of the martial arts films

and that was his basic culture

It's just kind of what happens with time...

Kill Niggers

Stop now, why are you having integrity
of a race of people?

We needed something to make us
feel better about ourselves

you watch the news every day
people were being beat down

things weren't progressing the way we wanted to

Martin Luther King was asking us to do one thing
Stokely Carmichael and

Rap Brown asking us to
do another thing.

The Panthers are doing their thing.

Revolution has come

Its time to pick up the guns!

I believe that the Black Power movement

influenced every single aspect of culture
in the 60s and the 70s

It's odd that people don't realize it now

It's just kind of what happens with time

but I think that there is no question that that is so

We're gonna walk on this racist power structure
and we're gonna say to the whole damn government

Stick them up motherfucker.
This is a hold up we come for what's ours?

a lot of those movies were made because of the...

I don't want to say power of the Black Power movement

cause we actually had we had perceived power.

We had no real power, but


Concept of power it was I think
that we had enough to apply pressure

he got away!

The two films that really marked
the takeoff of blaxploitation

"Our sweet sweetback's badass song"
by Melvin Van Peebles and

"Shaft" by Gordon Parks

The Van Peeble's film

really pointed out

The whole formula for making
a success in Hollywood

in defining this new short cycle

You know the way I got into films I

Just got I had a grudge growing and growing and
going against what I kept seeing on the screen and I said well

Shit, I can do better than that

The cause that I had was...

Giving Black folkes a sense of self
which had been stolen from us.

So that's how I made sweet back

You got a sweet

Sweet Sweetback

The color intelligencia were not
too happy about it, and


The Nationalists were not too happy about it

Now you see the Panthers now the Panthers stood up for the film
and made it required viewing for all of their members

Then Peebles defined it as a revolutionary movie
and the Black Panther Party

Backed that position and so the debate
was on was Sweetback truly

Revolutionary or was it just purely?


It's an X rated movie and

It had depictions of sexual activity that at the time
those were quite provocative and bold


That's why people went

Very few people actually picked up
on the political message

in Sweet Sweet Back, and there is a very strong one

Okay, what should I make him a clerk?



Mm-hmm. What's something everybody's interested in
without poontang? Shit...

Everybody's interested in sex. So I said, okay.
I'll make him a sexual animal

That's how it came about, what
Van Peebles really love to do

He's an instigator, which is I think what a lot of again

a lot of artists great artists want to do especially in this country
is to just provoke people and it was

Obviously purely from a commercial impulse

to get as many, you know, Afros in the theaters
seemed really possible

There is no sense of the word conventional narrative

And in fact there seems to have no interest in that,
it's just always offhanded stories

Which I thought was one of the most revolutionary things
I've ever seen in a movie

Certainly, I think this wave ranks with Godard

because if it broke down the expectations

that black audiences had about movies

Well, I go into the theater and the theaters packed

And not a sound, you could have heard
a rat pissing on cotton

Its toward the end of the movie and
Sweetback is out in the desert.

I said now, there's an old black lady and she said
Oh Lord, let him die

Just don't let him kill him. Let him die out here on his own

It was off her chart. that a negro, a colored,
a black and african-american

one of us would ever make it to the

To the end of the movie, so we didn't make it
to the end of the movie, huh?

She knew he was gonna die, but she leads it more to white folks to kill him

The thing about Sweetback is that he got away and
that never happened in a movie before

there's never been a movie where the police or

Someone was running after a black man
and the black man escaped

Without the Black Power movement there would
not that would not have been allowed

when Sweetback

Got away, It was a stunned silence
and then the place exploded

World Premier - Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet...

It was the largest grossing

independent film up to that time

I think its importance is that it

demonstrated that there was a black audience there

and that you could make
black films for that audience

and not only

Gather your audience and focus them
in a certain kind of way

and make money in the process without

being totally

trapped in the system

he did it for the money and

Academia and cultural criticism and all this stuff

has come along afterwards to try to give
this kind of deep and profound

Spin to it and it doesn't it doesn't mean that it may not have deep
and profound implications

But let's face it

The foundation of why this film was made and

why it was a success was all about money

What Hollywood did,
they suppress the political message

added caricature

And Blaxploitation was born


I didn't introduce myself to you,
my name is John Shaft


everything we always wanted to be

Five out of six, Hollywood

Blockbusters were failing right in that period
at the end of the 60s, so

They weren't making any money in the box office,
a couple of big studios went into receivership

So when they started to see

These things in the black independent films
that were really successful

Hey, they put out their own product line

that was good

The Shaft was really made for a white cast

But when they saw all of these things,
of rising expectations of a new black audience

This black energy about self-definition

and the new black politics

and they saw something that was immediately

Exploitable they changed chef's to a black film

The first time I saw it it was awesome

He was ike everything
we'd always wanted to be

he was like cool he talked tough

He looked great

He was kind of fearless he was a hero

He was already a neighborhood icon

when he showed up in the movie,
even though we didn't know him

We knew him, you know, we felt him

There are these moments that

kind of

signals the black audience that white people
just sort of scratch their heads about

"Hey Taxi!"

The scene where at the start of the picture can't get a cab

"What the hell is this?"

You know white mother

Sort of like there was this this underground code

That's the black filmmakers and the actors
brought their own experience

It's a movies in a way that we had never seen before

"listen snow white"

"Me and you gonna tangle sooner or later,"

"why don't you stop playing with yourself
Willie you ain't gonna do shit"

That huge

ripple that created half a splash onto the shores
of popular culture at some point

and just the idea of Shaft saving the studio that -

-was literally pawning Judy Garland's ruby slippers
for twenty thousand dollars to keep the doors open.

It was just a wonderful thing

It was a hit combination.

It's kind of a black macho detective in New York City

black girlfriends white girlfriends mediating between

the mob and

The police looking for a kidnapped
gangsters daughter

high adventure and
Isaac Hayes with the score was well

Hey, that was a high cultural moment

the sequence we saw this morning Times Square and none of the

Skyscrapers along 42nd Street over the marquees and
when Shaft pops up out of that subway

That's when they should really come on.
That should be a driving

savage beat, you know so that
we right with him all the time

Lets take it


Hollywood seemed to have missed the entire advent
of rock and roll and soul music

and then with the appearance of the Shaft theme

Its as if Hollywood finally woke up
to it many years later

"Up Yours"

"Get out of the way!"

That theme song was so exciting to hear
and still is exciting to hear that it and

It came at the very beginning of the movie

It's sort of kicked the movie sky high

(Song) "Who's the black private dick
That's a sex machine to all the chicks?"


"Damn right"

If you're a fan of the genre
the music is great, is fantastic

as a filmmaker I'm semi-frustrated
that it wasn't utilized better

"You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother (Shut your mouth)"

"Talking about Shaft"

If I had the theme to shaft
to open up my movie

I'd open up my damn Mov...

kung fu films have used the score to
Shaft better than Shaft has

In 1971 for sure blaxploitation was

poised for a big takeoff

and then after that boom
the explosion happened

Most of the Blaxploitation heroes
were anti-heroes.

They were you know pimps
and drug dealers

and guys coming home from the war who lived
on the other side of the law

Ex-gangbangers or whatever and they were gangsters,
but they were all fighting against the man

"The only game 'the man' left for us to play"

Super Fly

Superfly capitalized on the insights of
both of Shaft and Sweetback

It had an absolutely brilliant soundtrack
by Curtis Mayfield

but it also had the

Transgressive bad hero in it.

And that is a coke dealer named priest who was

at the height of fashion

But this guy also

Fits into what black people call the life

a kind of hustling, pimping, underworld

and this is taken up
when Carl Lee

Eddie and Superfly tells


Hey, so it's the only game the man
is left for us to play.

"Priest all I do sell coke"

Hey, I don't do no violence.
Dont mess with no fun

Iisten don't argue with me

I'm trying to give you a chance

You don't get my money tonight

I'm gonna put that younger
Leo's out of whores role.

Listen that my wife
you're talking about

So What?

it was the first time that
we looked at the issue of

Drug sales and drug abuse and
looked at the outside

Influences that control those drugs

you're gonna work for me
until I tell you to quit

You don't own me pig and no motherfucker
tells me when I can split

Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?

It's a movie about a guy wants
make a big dope score and

and the soundtrack

refutes every single thing in the movie

I mean you couldn't ask for a better
object lesson than Superfly

which has a

Performance by an actor, a brawling actor Ron O'Neill
who was itching for a chance to be a movie star

kind of savoir faire

Tigerish grace that maybe want to be him

at the same time everything that Curtis Mayfield
is doing on that soundtrack

It's all seduction as he's saying no

and thunder to everything
this movie is representing

"Hey Priest"

Look here, this is Priest

Curtis Mayfield approached that movie as a chance to make
a serious statement about that condition and

He was able to do it in
Superfly even though the film

Ethically went in one direction and
Mayfield went in the other

Part of the problem with Blaxploitation
has always been

that they degraded the political needs
of the black audience

Black audience in the 70s was indeed a politically conscious audience

but too often going to those movies you were
encouraged to simply forget the politics and

Indulge the pleasure of the sex
the clothes the cars the drugs

it was where the reaction against

Blaxploitation started to really pick up

Fight Blaxploitation in Pix

The Hollywood

Beverly Hills branch of the NAACP

pretty much rigorously denouncing
Superfly, Jesse Jackson

A number of people coming out and saying "hey..."

I don't know if this is exactly the direction
we want to go in

If you see Jim Brown or Carl Stokes on TV

You can rather safely assume

that they are not going to suffer
any indignity on the television

They feel a little freer


Maybe feel a little more powerful

but they are not actually any more powerful
because they have not turned Groove

Into an organism.

There were a number of people that

reacted to the film

And we can start to see then the seeds of a kind
of a critical dialectical reversal

Superfly is made by black people

In the black ghetto like it is and taken out
to the money affluent people

We have to be very thoughtful

Of what we do in say on film

the stereotypes that we have are often
what we perpetuated ourselves

I broke them,
but I also created some

because everyone thought a black woman
is a whoopie or a sister all the time

No, that's not true. You know,
we create a lot of that mess ourselves

"When Foxy Brown comes to town

All the Brothers gather around...

Because she can really shake him down"

"Foxy Lady"

I thought it was like doing "Gone With the Wind",
I was going for the Oscar

You tell me what you want done
and I'll do the hell out of it

That's how I

Approached everything in my life
is just be the best

"have no fear, Pam Grier is here"

Pam Grier to me was like a superhero.

I mean look at the body
on this woman, I mean

With the film "Coffy", "Sheba, Baby"

Foxy Brown, you know

She was basically a superhero

almost like the ultimate girl.
You didn't quite want a girl that was that tough

But you didn't want a girl that was you know,
that tall had a big fro

You don't want your girlfriend actually
be able to kick your ass

"All right, everybody out"

He says anything

Coffy was my mom

Foxy Brown was my aunt and they were women
who were very demonstrative

But yet had very feminine and
know how to use sexuality

"Hey you big man, why don't you turn out the light?"

This is the end of your rotten life you
motherfucking dope picture

Women of the 70s had to do a lot of
things because of the wars

They did a lot of things that men
were supposed to do

if you didn't have a man at home

You did it. So I also
brought that into the film

Coffy, Foxy Brown and Sheba were independent woman
that did things because there wasn't a man around

"My name is Coffy. LuBelle Coffy is my little sister"

Her whole life is gone!

She can never get it back,
and you're living real good

It ain't right, so go on and take the shot.
- I can't. That'd kill me

Maybe it will, maybe it won't. But if it do,
you're gonna fly through the Pearly Gates

with the biggest fuckin' smile St Peter's ever seen.

The level of violence was
pretty great in those films

now even in Coffy and all this that
she had razor blade stuck in her hair

women grab by hand

She's a wild animal

You've got to have that girl


I thought it was the

The moment where we could really live out

The freedoms won by the 50s 40s 50s and 60s
political gains

Where we could come out here and
go to Beverly Hills

and the doors are open for me to go
to nightclubs and restaurants

And be treated very equal when
I remember, you know

Walking with my mom in the south my little brother

We would go shopping to bring food
and things back home

and the bus's city buses wouldn't stop to pick us up

Because we were black

Hundred and ten in the shade humidity
bugs and they go right by us

It could be up to ten miles.
It's like walking from here to downtown, you know


So from knowing what that was and to be able
to really experience a freedom

One in the 70s was was very different

What is it you really want?

-For whom, your brother?

Why not?
It could be your brother too

Or your sister, or your children

I want justice for all of them

And I want justice for all the other people
whose lives are bought and sold

So that a few big shots can climb up
on their backs and laugh at the law

Sister, I think what you're asking for is revenge

also, the the sexual movement was

Raging through the streets,
shorts were getting - you know -

skirts were getting shorter,
men's pants are getting tighter

People were throwing underwear and bra
out the window,

you know type of thing. We had Woodstock.
He loved your body naked peace and love

So all of that was about who we were too -
and you can see that in the film

By 1975 the industry was rocking

and then other actresses said,

"you know, I think I'ma kick some butt too
and make some money like Pam"

So there were other actresses entering,
from Tamara Dobson

To Gloria Hindry

'Do those dishes or something'

They're done

It was just exploding

It was fun, I mean it was fashion

'He's a Pusher'

Blaxploitation films brought to

The screen for the first time

in many ways working class and poor black people's
obsessions with style

Jim for gentle party.
Look I want you to meet somebody this here is...


What people really remember basically is the clothes that
the pimps wore, the hustlers, you know

That was the stuff that really stood out

The self-expression

they wanted to be out there
they wanted to shine

put the light on me,
you know flamboyant peacocks

I can remember,
you know going to see The Mac and

Everybody wanted to be 'Goldie'.
You know, he had this white monkey fur coat on, its like

everybody emulated this

This was the shift from the

Self-sacrificing 'we' generation of the civil rights movement
and its aftermath

and the 'me' consumer generation
that was starting to rise

Energy that up until about

72', 73', was very militant

starts to get displaced into
a sartorial display, fashion

The afro was out

Guys, that were wearing berets
and black leather jackets

suddenly started showing up
with big gold chains

with coke spoons on them
and crushed velvet

With the big floppy hats

it was bad

It was you know, it was fun.
I mean it was fashion

You wanted to be like these people that you saw on the screen
and that's what some people say

a lot of the negativity came from I

Told you before, okay, you got your game
and I got mine

Okay, I got ten in the finest hoes in the world working for me.
I'm getting $100 a day from each one. Okay?

Goldie get off my ass with
a penny-ante pussies games

The people with the funny hats and the noisemakers
they've gone home early

the party's over baby. It's dawn

It's reality

Oh My God we should show pimps to a white America,
that this is who we are in our community

they'll think we're all like this

and that was the problem
of storytelling

because everyone will generalize one black man on TV
and on the news all black people are like that, you know

So that was a part of a lot
of the dialogue and

oh my god, you know,
can we do other films?

Yeah, but no one will come
and see them, you know, so

So you like the music you like the fashions you like the culture,
you like this and you like that? Okay

well, those are also
the stereotypes too

Somebody's a junkie. Somebody's a pimp has to be involved
about crime has to be involved in the ghetto

White cops are all evil

so now

put into a social fabric framework

what all we are pimps all we are cops
all we are detectives all we are are

Pushers or bounty hunters or
these kind of things.

No, but at the same time,
it's crime cinema

So the only real argument coming
from the other side is like,

you know black shouldn't
be doing crime films

some black attractions

I think frankly the
white directors are gonna

Step in and take over the bonanza

black directors are

Continually beaten over the head
or doing what they call

black film

I was making old
Warner Brothers gangster movies

like Public Enemy and

And Little Caesar and just
putting black actors into it

Larry Cohen's one of the underappreciated

near geniuses of American film making

A man, who is always

socially and politically conscious

And comes up with kind of lowdown,
but ingenious ways of expressing

political issues and problems

After I had done a picture called
"Bone' with Yaphet Kotto

I was summoned to Sam Arkoff's office

he said we want to make some black attractions

You really know how to direct those black actors

and I said, well Sam there's only one black actor in the picture,
Yaphet Kotto and I agree he was good, but

directing a black actor is
no different than directing anybody else

But I said as long as you're interested

I have to have something in the trunk of the car
you might like to read and

And we ran down and got the treatment for "Black Caesar".
Well, we weren't out of the office before we had a deal

A man will grow up with nothing and

clawed his way up to the top.
He's trying to live in the white man's world

Playing by the white man's rules and
forgets his true identity know himself

and is basically brought down by the fact
that he doesn't know himself

It's a classic tragic story

"Jesus Christ!"

Sauce look like it needed a little more meat

"What the hell are you doing, who are you?

there are a number of these action-adventure films
which started to liberate

the black image and and started
to bring out this kind of

Physical black macho this expression of black violence.

We were tired of seeing

the righteous black man

and all of a sudden we had guys who were us

Or guys who did the things
we wanted those guys to do.

We wanted the guys kill the man

Don't talk to him don't think
of some elaborate scheme.

You know, I'm gonna leave you here
and let the dogs eat you

No! shoot him and get on with your life, you know and guys like
Fred Williamson and Jim Brown

And Ron O'Neal and all these guys did that stuff

Jim Kelly Jim Brown

Fred Williamson, all these black athletes were getting
into action adventure and being black heroes

my nickname when I played professional football
was 'The Hammer'

I wanted to do a black gangster movie
and I wanted to be like Edward G Robinson

and where you rob from the rich
and give to the poor

Casting is 75% of directing

Fred was beautiful

Let's face it he was gorgeous

with Fred Williamson you could say
he was the black Burt Reynolds

I can walk down any street in any part
of the city and any ghetto

Wherever it's rough wherever it's tough.

I walk by three or four guys man.
And as I walk by they go

that's 'The Hammer' man. Yeah, yeah he's a bad dude,
man. Hammers bad

I'm walking this way and the guys walking
that way and it's Fred Williamson

And just as I'm passed, I'm like,
oh my god. That's the hammer

and so I just say, 'are you Fred williamson?'
he goes you got it

Somebody to stand up and say
hey when the smoke clears and the guns are all fired

We're the ones left standing, you know, don't kill me and go have him
- Stallone, avenge my death

kill Stallone, let me avenge Stallone's death

'Who's there?'

I came out to California
just for a look around.

I got an agent just like that

he said 'Gloria I want you to come over to this set with me'

They're looking for an actress.
It was black Caesar

I walked in they looked at me

and Fred was standing on the side
just observing

and Larry started talking to me.

He said look and they were in the middle of shooting.
He said look

How do you feel about nudity?
First of all, I'm a bunny

So nudity to me was not a big deal

Since I have no problem with it
as long as it's done with taste

he said well the feature feature film calls for it

so I left and next thing I knew
the following day my

Agency said I got the part

I had it, I've had it up to here
with pinching my ass

And thinking I'm a prostitute.

O baby please

Sit down, you didn't play a couple of tunes for me.
Now let's just sit down and play a couple of tunes

What do you want to hear?
- Doesn't matter, just make it loud

Then James Brown was brought in

They sent me the music

James done a wonderful thing,
he thought

which was if the scene was three minutes long

James wrote seven minutes of music for it

if a scene was a minute and a half
James wrote three minutes of music for it

I said to Bobby who was his assistant.
I got a two man scene. He wrote four minutes of music

He says to me,
well the man gave you more than you need.

I said Charles it doesn't work that way
the music has got to fit the scene

Picture opened - it was a blockbuster

'Who the hell are you?'
- Did you know that man's beard keeps on growing

even after he's... dead?

Then once you get through that
vicarious thrill to see a black man

Beat up a white man on the screen

you go back and you face the same evil system
that you faced before you went there

We should always deal with
the reality and not fantasy.

I did not like that climate during that time

these organizations fail to understand
that the community was really in need of

Their own heroes and black movies

The NAACP and core they're the ones
who created this terminology

Black Exploitation,
so that has to be clear on the record book

It came from them and didn't come from
the white press it came from them.

I didn't like the term

Especially during that time
I went what is that?

How dare you pigeonhole us?

who was being exploited?

All the black actors were getting paid.
They had a job they were going to work

The audience wasn't being exploited.

They were getting to see things on their screen
that they had longed for over the years

So I don't really understand
where this terminology fits

The NAACP never tried to go out and

Get enough money to make a movie that they wanted to see,
you know, and that was always my beef

You know, if you have a problem
with this particular film

then get some money and
make the film you want us to see

Genres come and go

There are so many of these movies,
I mean

there was the Black Six and the Black Gestapo
and Black Shampoo and

Blackenstein and Count Chocula,
well, that's a cereal

but it might as well been
a blaxploitation movie

I curse you with my name

You shall be.... Blacula

Blacula Dracula's soul brother

Deadlier even than he

You know you give strange...

They made a lot of
bad movies under the guise of

Blaxploitation pictures just like
most movies are bad

But I think that they abused the privilege

Genres come and go
and the Blaxploitation genre

Had a... I think had was

so popular for so long and
they made so many movies of it

It had a firmer hold then say the biker films

alright, or

Slasher movies or
something like that.

It wasn't just connected to exploitation

when the critics started to really turn against

blaxploitation and,
and just the the

formula that was produced
after the few brilliant moments

It all started to head in
these interesting directions

Kung-fu was one of those directions

Black people read it just as an anti colonial
impulse just straight-up

vs. martial art like that has been
perfected and practiced by Asians

and you run around kicking and whipping
a lot of people with this

Great skill so they were into
that from the beginning

There was something very 70s about those
kung-fu films that it's a different 70s, but

blacks made it their own
by their acceptance of that genre

You crazy

I had done at least six or seven films back to back from
72 to 74 that was exhausting

When I look back on that period you can see a lot of us
working a whole lot we were all very tired

If anything I got... I got opposition

From people insane and you know putting me down
for doing movies like that. I mean, I I was I was beaten

Mentally, emotionally not physically because

you don't know what's going on

All you know is that
there's a force out there

That's doing you in and you're going under

and you don't know why all you know is just spinning

It wasn't white Hollywood so much that was against it
they were very happy to make these films

$700,000/800,000 budget

10 million dollar gross back to them

Hey, they were very happy then all of a sudden
here comes this terminology black exploitation

Then they say well listen if the black audiences
and the blacks don't like these movies

Maybe we better jump off the bandwagon

when Hollywood saw that

like clearly

One-fourth to one-third of their audience
for the Exorcist and The Godfather was black

They just all looked at each other and said hey,
why are we making black movies?

It was a vicious time when everything was cut off
and you don't know it's cut off

Until you start falling and
you're putting your hands out

You can't grab a hold of anything
and I was grabbing

Making phone calls and grabing while I was falling
and I couldn't get a hold of anything

there was nothing

I saw our demise,
I saw our death

I saw the actors producers

production companies,
directors etc. I saw us dead

Black films saved Hollywood and when they got
through with us around 75 or 76

They dropped us,
the door slammed

Not very many people survived...
Pam Grier survived

Richard Roundtree made $13,000 for shaft
as a film that made tens of millions of dollars

we're not dead yet!...

It's only been in the last six years

That all these actors who were associated those movies
that can actually talk proudly about them

They always had to kind of like almost apologize
for them because they took such heat

I wanted to give all the actors their chance again
to show how good we all look

that we do have a marketplace
that we're not dead yet

I had three rules in Hollywood
that they didn't want to adhere to

One: you can't kill me

Two: I have to win all my fights and

Three: I get the girl at the end of the
movie if I want her

So they would not adhere
to these three rules

So fine, I could make my own movie

and I damn sure these three things
gonna happen in my movie

I said to my wife.
Well, this is never gonna happen

You know, he's never going to get
four million dollars to make this picture

So I'll be happy to tell him I'm doing it
because I'm never gonna have to do it

I went to Cannes, I went to MIFED,
and I saw two point eight million dollars in advance sales

Brought the contract back to a bank

Loan the money put my
two million dollars on the table

or Ryan mastered two million
and we made Original Gangsters

Starring Me, Jim Brown, Pam Grier,
Richard Roundtree, Ron O'neal

You lookin good my man

Never felt better

Sure feels good

All those rebels back together again,
but damn who's gonna go first

We all are

All right, let's go

I filmed it very well and from that the actors
got noticed they went on to work again


Jackie Brown

that sounds like pam grier

You had the chance, unemployed now,
to walk away with a half million dollars

Would you take it?

When I first read the book
and I thought about doing it

I just started thinking about well,
what actresses would be good to play this

she's gotta be in her mid 40s

She's got to look really good and she's gonna look
like maybe she's in her mid to late 30s

But awesome. I also wanted you to look
like a woman who's lived a life

And there is a really good aspect
in casting older actors

You know

they got as many stories and they've had as many ups
and downs as circus performers or

Cops or this or any other kind of
wild weather beaten profession

and she had to look
like she could handle anything

And then once I put all those things together like well,
that's sounds like Pam Grier

How you doing Mrs. Jackie?
- come on in

I don't know if I was the right one,
but he thought I was so I knew I had to live up to

His image or what he thought of

A woman who was survivor

you want to see some motherfucking silly if I have to tell you
to shut up one more time

I'm gonna shut you up.

I just came over here to talk to you
- to talk?

The way I see, you and me got one motherfucking
thing to talk about, one thing

And that's what you are willing to do for me

I think that that's one of the the more meaningful images
resisting images of a black female

that's come out of contemporary film
and it's important that

Resisting image begins with Coffy

It doesn't begin in the
Quentin Tarantino imagination

He has the capacity and ability

through love I think through love of the image itself

to love of this character,
to take that image of the strong and powerful woman

and bring it into

a new generation,
a new time in a sense

He erases the earlier pornography of Coffy.

'Come On! Crawl over here...

Crawl Nigger!

You want me to crawl

Right motherfucker!

she's not gonna be Coffy.
She's gonna be more like a real woman.

Alright, she's gonna have more problems

she ain't gonna just be able to take a shotgun
and drive through the wall

Whip a derringer out of her afro,

super bad

And shoot the evil white woman,
all right

'Why don't you kill me too?'

That is too easy for you bitch,

so I did miss those elements

a lot of the political issues that

Were the foundation of those characters
and films in those times

Have been resolved and aren't as necessary

and the politicalness of Jackie Brown

I think we all loved Jackie Brown

Cause Jackie Brown was the bomb!
she was brilliant, she was gutsy

And she was gorgeous you know

But she wasn't, she didn't think that the most important
thing in her life was her looks

'How you doin?
- Fine

'Yes you are'

Damn I bet you come in here
on Saturday night you need

Nigger Repellent to keep them off your ass

I do okay
- bullshit Jackie?
You're one fine motherfucker.

I bet you do a damn sight
better than okay

Tarantino took the swagger of blaxploitation
without the political context

niggers used the word carelessly
in those pictures and it becomes

Sort of unmoored from the kind
of political context

and I think there's a danger in that people think
we just say it and it doesn't mean anything

Or its just this aping Tarantino

It's much more than that.
I think maybe much more dangerous than that

the whole controversy about Jackie Brown

and the number times the word nigger
was used in the movie was like

it was kind of like how silly
is that as a controversy

his overuse of the word
and I quote nigger is

interesting. I mean even when you look at the
blaxploitation films of that period the

the word wasn't

Really that overused or popular.
It was used in a kind of a familiar

affectionate sense, but it wasn't nostalgiasized
and rarified in quite the same way

Yeah, my nigga!

my dialogue

It's not poetry but it's close.

It's not rap music, but it's close

It's not song writing, but it's close,

you know, it is what it is,
but it's it's related to all those

'I don't know what to say,
thank you thank you'

'Who was there for your ass?
- You were

Got damn, right? That's how that shit works
you get you ass in trouble. I get your ass out

That's my motherfucking job, and I don't mind
telling you nigger, it's steady work

My character is you know larger than life and
he does have an interesting way of dressing

he does have an interesting hairstyle and
he does have an interesting way of carrying himself and speaking

so it becomes a Blaxploitation movie
in that respect.

I think it's just a homage to the 70s and

Everybody who had the courage

to step out and take platforms and

Just be heard

hey, what is home is what is that?
You can buy that for 25 cents somewhere man

and uh and then after you know,

They say see me laying
on the street on the curb

Right and they step over me
and I was like Fred Wilson man.

Yeah, I used to be him and they keep moving right?
Is that homage? Okay, what is that good for?

black hollywood

On the shoulders of
Fred Williamson Jim Brown Jim Kelly

The Paula Kellys, Rosalind Cash,
Vonetta McGee, Tamara Dobson, Markie Bays

The Ruby Dees, Dorothy Dandridge,
Lena Horne's, Eartha Kitt

Dinah Washington, shall I go on?

These kids stand today.
It's a whole legacy there

Blaxploitation didn't really make
that much money for black people

All right. It was a great cultural moment.
A lot of good music a lot of good films were made

But in terms of production itself and getting a foot
in the Hollywood industry

This was only a moment
or an inner loop

It came it died it went before
it really had a chance to grow

Where could we be today,
we might be in another level

Even today if that community
was still alive

Black Hollywood yeah right...

sure in somebody's mind maybe
but it don't exist man. No, no