Directed and starring Melvin Van Peebles, this was the first totally independent Black movie. Van Peebles funded the film himself, shooting it independently over a period of 19 days, performing all of his own stunts and appearing in several unsimulated sex scenes. Van Peebles gained additional funds with a $50,000 loan from Bill Cosby to complete the film. Initially, the film was only screened in two theaters in the United States. But even with this limited, the response from the Black cinema going audience was incredible. People queued in their hundreds to see what was essentially the tale of a promiscuous black anti-hero as he makes his way towards Mexico to evade the white racist police. It went on to gross $4,100,000 at the box office. Huey P. Newton celebrated and welcomed the film's revolutionary implications, and the film became required viewing for members of the Black Panther Party. The film is an important work in the history of American cinema. It paved the way for the success of future independent black films. According to Variety, it demonstrated to Hollywood that films which portrayed "militant" blacks could be highly profitable, leading to the creation of the blaxploitation genre. The musicians on the movie soundtrack were a young group unheard of at the time who went on to global fame as Earth Wind and Fire.
2 Shaft 1971
Who’s the Black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks?
Following hot on the heels of Sweetback, Metro Goldwyn Mayer produced Shaft. According to Van Peebles the character of Shaft was originally a white detective.. “But after the success of Sweetback..they just added some muthafuckas and turned him into a Black one!” The white studios finally realised there was a whole market going uptapped – the Black film going audience who had grown tired of seeing Black actors as happy slaves or loyal side-kicks to the white hero. Directed by Black filmmaker Gordon Parks, andstarring Richard Roundtree in the title role, Shaft tells the story of a black private detective, John Shaft, who travels through Harlem and to the Italian mob in order to find the missing daughter of a black mobster. The classic soundtrack by Issac Hayes won an Oscar! Two sequels were made: Shaft's Big Score in 1972, and Shaft in Africa in 1973. These were followed by a series of TV movies starring Roundtree as Shaft on CBS during the 1973-1974 TV season.In 2000, a movie sequel was made by John Singleton but don’t bother checking it out. Despite having the coolest man in Hollywood in the starring role, Samuel L. Jackson, it just can’t match the swagger of the original!
3 Superfly 1972
‘That’s the American dream nigga! Well ain’t it?
Super Fly helped kick start the whole blaxploitation era, directed by Gordon Parks, Jr., and starring Ron O'Neal as Youngblood Priest, a black cocaine dealer who is trying to quit the underworld drug business. Super Fly is one of the few films ever to have been outgrossed by its soundtrack, and indeed the classic soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield (who also makes a cameo appearance) has stood the test of time much better than the movie.
I’m your momma, I’m your daddy, I’m that nigga in the alley,
I’m your doctor when you need, have some coke, have some weed,
You know me, I’m your friend, your main boy, thick and thin,
I’m your pusherman
Much loved by the hip-hop generation, dialogue from this movie has been sampled by the likes of Snoop Dogg and Jay Z.
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