johnlink ranks FOXY BROWN (1974)

Taking a brief break from the run of SAW reviews to catch a cult classic of the 1970s. You never know what you are going to get when you see a movie of this sort more than 40 years after it was made. Last time I tried it was with ENTER THE DRAGON, which is a movie I liked much, much less than everyone else seems to. But that won’t keep me from giving similarly regarded cult classics a shot, of course, so I happily stumbled upon FOXY BROWN.

f2

I watched FOXY BROWN (1974) on 10.4.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

FOXY BROWN is synonymous with the genre of Blaxploitation. Writer/Director Jack Hill, who is very white, had several of these titles and they are among the most highly regarded of the 70s iteration of the genre. Hill cut his teeth with the likes of Roger Corman, so he brings that sort of entertainment-first sensibility. His FOXY BROWN is not an exceptional film, but it certainly packs a lot of action and intensity into its 90+ minutes.

Foxy Brown (Pam Grier) just wants to live a normal life with her surgically-repaired, former-undercover-NARC, Michael (Terry Carter). Unfortunately, Foxy has a lowlife brother Link (Anthony Fargas – best known as Huggy Bear), who has no problem ratting out his sister’s lover. A crime syndicate, led by the deliciously evil Katherine (Kathryn Loder), takes out Michael and soon Foxy is out for revenge.

The plot of this movie is amazingly simplistic. When Foxy goes undercover as a prostitute for Katherine, we assume that this is going to be a long-game scenario which drives the plot of the movie. Instead, Foxy reveals herself at the first chance and is quickly on the run. She’s a smart woman, to be sure, but she is a woman that doesn’t plan all that far ahead. It gets her into plenty of trouble – most disturbingly as ‘The Ranch’ when this movie gets to be its most unabashedly exploitative – but she is tough and quick-witted enough to always get around it.

Grier is immensely likable. Her Foxy doesn’t think of herself as sexy by default, but she isn’t afraid to use her sexuality to get what she wants. She’s funny, she’s intense, she’s a powerfully present woman. That this movie is memorable is entirely thanks to a great performance by Grier, though Kathryn Loder holds her own as a villain who chews the heck out of all the scenery. Also good is the understated Peter Brown as Steve – Katherine’s right hand man. He is superb in a scene where Katherine talks about her undying love for him as he looks on board and almost disgusted.

But this isn’t a movie about the performances, so much. It is a movie which exists to be cool. Only one scene of dialogue feels entirely outdated (a scene where Foxy introduces Michael to the neighborhood watch), everything else has a sense of timelessness. The music, sure, is dated. But that early 70s funk gives the movie an undeniably cool pulse. It’s fun to listen to, for sure.

I didn’t expect this movie to hold up as well as it does, and I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. But this is a fun, wacky, eccentric revenge actioner. It’s one that should be on my shelf, because it is worth a revisit.

SCORES

FILM: 5; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 6

5+8+7+6+0=26

FINAL SCORE: 6.5 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on October 4, 2015.

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