Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak

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Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read online Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak file PDF Book only if you are registered here. And also you can download or read online all Book PDF file that related with Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak book. Happy reading Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak Bookeveryone. Download file Free Book PDF Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak at Complete PDF Library. This Book have some digital formats such us :paperbook, ebook, kindle, epub, fb2 and another formats. Here is The CompletePDF Book Library. It's free to register here to get Book file PDF Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak Pocket Guide. I had seen a couple of them. AR: How did you become involved with the genre? MC: Only because I had this idea of these great icons. You know, in the late s and s, the football players of color really started coming into their own. They became larger-than-life characters. I thought about modernizing it: six guys coming home from Vietnam. The irony is that they still have a war at home to fight. So that was basically where The Black Six originated. And it opened in New York City to lines around the block.

And of course it had this huge reaction. It was too bad that the theater distributors never could envision it in white theaters. They only saw it at black theaters. I mean, here you had six guys that already had their own built-in fan bases. MC: Yeah, and you needed six guys who were very rugged. These guys had this spirit, and they put that spirit into the film. AR: Was it any more difficult directing what were essentially six amateur actors? MC: They all went along pretty good. There were a couple of things. Gene Washington was always sort of a doll. They were all bright.

They understood and took direction well. Yeah, we had some bumps along the way, but for the most part it all worked very well. Gene Washington was the one who carried most of the dialogue, and he did a very good job. They were just six guys who had had enough of war and blood, and they just wanted to get on their motorcycles and go see Colorado.

And their motivations were pure. They knew they were going into an impossible situation at the time, but they knew they had to do it because they had to leave their mark. And their cause was much greater than, you know, being a sensational dope dealer. No, a dope dealer is a dope dealer. And these guys were not that.

These guys were products of the sixties. What attracted you to that project?

I love trying to do the impossible. You know, how do you make a hero out of a pimp? The idea was that in the s and coming into the s, we had all these people talking about the black revolution. So the idea of The Candy Tangerine Man was that basically he chose this road to go—becoming a pimp—not because this was the way he necessarily wanted to go, but because that was the way to make money.

Prostitution was something that existed, and he treated his girls a certain way and he had a great brain. He was very smart. He has a talent. So that was my quest there. I used to see all these pimps on the Sunset Strip with the big fancy cars and the clothes. And sometimes I would talk to some of them. But you wanna know something?

Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak

They were clever and smart and they had good minds. And the problem with them was—at least in my mind—was that we never really dug into those minds to put them to good use. But he has this floating whorehouse going through Hollywood. He had this deal going, that deal going. So that was basically the whole temptation of The Candy Tangerine Man. Of course the picture became an enormous success.

Samuel L. MC: Exactly. Who knows? MC: Yeah. We shot it all right there on the actual strip, and a lot of the girls were actual hookers. And the people are actual pimps who came and got into film. We also had some pimp wannabes. MC: Yeah, it really does. The film really puts you there. It was one of the first films that were really shot in locations where it could have really happened. But here we shot it where it happened, baby. When I showed it to Barry White and asked him to do the music, he flipped for the film.

He had a group called Smoke that he owned, and they ended up doing the music. AR: What was Barry White like to work with? All I did was go have a hamburger with him and show him the film. I never gave him a dime, but he owned all the publishing. How did that come about? MC: It was very nice. He came on the set of Miriam, the film I was doing, and he was talking to my crew, telling them how much of a fan of mine he was.

And he was telling everybody around me what a great fan of mine he was. She booked me in to a couple of festivals. MC: That is. I had a kid come up to me—this was very strange. I had a white kid—a postgraduate film student—come up to me in Spokane at a festival. I want you to know that The Black Six changed my life. He was very sincere. And it shocks me, this whole rejuvenation.

AR: What are your thoughts on the criticism regarding the violence in the film? You could do all of that, but boy, that girl pissing on that guy, to the women on the MPAA, that was disgusting, horrible, and should not be put on film. AR: Did you have to make many cuts to appease them? MC: Nope. I made the cuts to appease them, but then I put those scenes right back in the film. I knew none of them would go to check it out. AR: Your third blaxploitation film, Lady Cocoa, was one of the highest grossing low-budget films ever made.

To what do you attribute its success? MC: Lola Falana was a hot number. She was hot, and I think in many markets it did creep into the white area. And the picture was financed by Sammy Davis Jr. It had a lot of things going for it. It had a lot of advanced publicity because of her. And Sammy talked it up. It had a very good sendoff. And by the time that Lady Cocoa came out, Joe Greene was really hot. That got lots of attention. So yeah, it did really well. AR: What are your thoughts today on the blaxploitation genre? And that, to me, was the greatest thing about all of it. These people were so talented.

And they came on the set and they worked, and worked, and worked. It was fabulous. AR: At the time you were making these films, were you at all aware that you were a part of making history? MC: No. Not at all. He briefly attended Valparaiso University in Indiana. For a short time he lived on the East Coast before relocating to California with the hopes of becoming an actor. The would-be thespian supported himself by working as a door-to-door salesman while studying acting under John Morley. He then met schlockmeister Al Adamson by chance, and the two quickly became friends and collaborators.

Frankenstein Using his own money, Clark then financed his own directorial debut, Mothers, Fathers, and Lovers He followed this up with the blaxploitation film The Bad Bunch , also known as Nigger Lover, which earned him enough money to finance his next project. I came here young and dumb and inexperienced to be an actor. In the book were two acting coaches, Jeff Corey and John Morley, and their phone numbers.

So I went to see Jeff Corey. I went to see him and we talked, and he seemed to think I had some potential. He said he was starting a class in something like four weeks. I thought to myself, four weeks? In four weeks I could be a star. So I went to see the other guy. Instead of doing group sessions, he was doing individual sessions. This meant you could start whenever you wanted, so I decided to go with him. He also did group sessions, and after three or four weeks with him, he invited me to attend. After a couple of weeks, I met a girl there who said she was up for a role in a movie, and the director was interested in her on a personal basis.

So she asked if I would come down to her callback interview as a beard, pretending to be her boyfriend. So I went down with this girl and met the director, Al Adamson. And at that time, Al had only done one or two films prior to that. I was sitting in a hallway outside a very tiny office Al had, waiting for her to finish her interview. Are you going to? So Al made the film and the girl got the part. Since I had become friends with Al, I went with them to Utah to help make the film. He said he had 40 pages of a western script, but it needed to be rewritten and fleshed out.

The only problem was that he had no money. So good, in fact, that Robert Taylor signed on to appear in it. I had written myself a great part, too. But then Robert Taylor got sick and was diagnosed with cancer, and the project fell apart. So the film was never made, but it allowed me to get my foot in the door. AR: How did you get your start as a director? GC: I wrote a script on my own about a guy who comes back from Vietnam, and how he adjusts to society. And this was an anti-war picture, and so forth. So I made the picture, Mothers, Fathers, and Lovers, and appeared in it.

And the picture turned out pretty good.

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It was kind of a social comedy. We had a minor release on it. Based on that, I then made a second picture. This one was a blaxploitation picture called The Bad Bunch. I was always interested in politics. I actually drove a car for Mr. So this picture, The Bad Bunch, was a very political picture. A shot rings out and his buddy is killed.

So when he gets back to the United States, he goes down to Watts to see the father of the buddy who was killed, to pay his respects. And he and the younger brother of the soldier buddy who was killed get into a confrontation through a misunderstanding. Then there are white racist cops played by Aldo Ray and Jock Mahoney, and they beat up on the black kids. And the black kids mistakenly blame the white guy. And it ends rather dramatically. And the first time I screened it, the guys loved it. They thought it was terrific. Then we screened again, and again, and again. The picture did quite well.

So from that perspective, The Bad Bunch did very well. I had a few bucks in my pocket and I wanted to make another of what they called blaxploitation pictures. In those days, before home video, you could make a picture, and if it had certain exploitive elements to it, you could actually get it released theatrically throughout the United States. And at that time, pictures with African American leads were easily released theatrically. The so-called blaxploitation pictures were really exploitation pictures— sex and violence and action and so forth.

The only difference between those and the other exploitation pictures being made was that they featured African American actors. It was kind of about the black milieu, about black life. I actually wanted to do one that featured a successful African American businessman. That was kind of the extent of my thinking on it.

I had to cast the movie, of course, and I saw a movie called Candy Tangerine Man , where John Daniels played a pimp. He was perfect, and I was fortunate enough to get him to do it. We had open casting for the rest of the parts, and Tanya Boyd, who plays the female lead, came in and gave a terrific reading. Again, I was lucky enough to have her do it. So we made the picture in the fall of Black Shampoo is a crazy mixture of comedy, violence, and sex, but it works really well.

The audience responds to it. I was amazed. This was the first time I had seen the picture on the big screen in more than 30 years. But the audience went crazy for it. It was actually the same reaction they had more than 30 years earlier whenever I would see it with an audience. They would hoot and holler and laugh and have a good time. They got with the story and seemed to like it very much. AR: Several of the actors used pseudonyms. Why is that? They wanted to stay out of trouble with the union, so they used pseudonyms on the picture.

About a day before we were to begin filming, my cameraman got into an automobile accident. Nothing too serious, but he hit his head on the steering wheel and he looked terrible. But he assured me he was okay and we began filming. Within a couple of hours, the poor guy came to me in a lot of pain and said there was no way he could continue. And on a low-budget picture, unlike a big-budget picture, the director of photography is also the camera operator. Our gaffer can be the DP. What have I gotten myself into? There was no studio I could go to to say something had gone wrong and we needed more money.

So by then it was too late. Well, the gaffer, Dean Cundey, came over, and he had maybe shot one or two films. But he turned out to be terrific. Dean was great. But Dean was quick, he was good, and he was also very good with the crew. Dean and I wound up making four more films together after this one. I was very lucky. After Black Shampoo, I got to make one picture after another each year for 10 or 12 years straight. And I just kept rolling whatever money I made off picture one into picture two. So anyway, Dean and I worked together for four or five more years.

During that time, he got a lot of work and eventually did Halloween He then eventually became cinematographer for Spielberg on a number of pictures, not the least of which was Jurassic Park And he did the Back to the Future movies with Bob Zemeckis. Incidentally, he called me about 10 years after making Black Shampoo, just to say hello and reminisce about old times.

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It is different. GC: I originally planned to release it myself, because I had kind of a quasidistribution company set up just to release my own pictures. But I decided to go ahead and screen it for Dimension Pictures. In those days, there were at least half a dozen truly independent distributors. But in those days—this was early —there were truly independent distributors. John Daniels plays Mr. And Dimension Pictures was one of these. It was really owned by two people, a man and a wife named Larry and Betty Wolner.

They were an exploitation distributor. I screened Black Shampoo for them, and they made me an offer that was advantageous for me. So I gave the picture to them for distribution, and they distributed it literally all over the world. We played in every major urban environment in the United States. And we played all over Europe and Asia and South America. And from there, for the next 10 years or so, I made a picture a year. What are the differences in those versions? There was only one released. But it was just a scene where Jonathan stops by to see one of his clients.

And their version misses that same scene, although their version is very good and very clean. But somehow and somewhere somebody cut that scene without my knowledge. AR: What do you feel is the legacy of Black Shampoo and the other films of the blaxploitation era?

David F Walker at the San Francisco Public Library

GC: The blaxploitation films paved the way for more mainstream participation by African Americans in front of and behind the camera. They also proved to the establishment that there was an audience for similarly themed films.

Reflections on Blaxploitation - Actors and Directors Speak (Electronic book text)

Today, similar films are being made and distributed by major film organizations. They may not carry the name blaxploitation, but if you look carefully, they carry many of the themes we explored back in the day. African Americans are still underrepresented in the film industry, but progress is being made, and the early blaxploitation films certainly helped. CHAPTER 7 Larry Cohen With a career spanning five decades, screenwriter, producer, and director Larry Cohen has established himself as one of the most versatile and prolific individuals ever to work in the medium.

He has written and directed pictures in nearly every genre conceivable, and his rather impressive filmography bears this out. In , Cohen made his directorial debut with the film Bone. Because he pulled a terrific performance out of leading man Yaphet Kotto, the studios saw him as a white director who could work well with black actors. Based on this, Cohen soon crafted a gangster film for Sammy Davis Jr. When the project fell apart, Cohen shot the film as a blaxploitation picture for American International Pictures.

The resulting film, Black Caesar —a retooling of classic Warner Bros. In addition, Cohen has written extensively for television and has even created the cult television series Branded and The Invaders. Some people find it offensive, while others, such as Quentin Tarantino, look at it more in terms of other exploitation films, such as women-in-prison films and the early bootlegging films of Burt Reynolds.

What does the term blaxploitation mean to you? Every movie tries to get you to part with your eight dollars. Our job is to get you to spend your money, and come into the theater, not unlike a barker at a carnival sideshow trying to entice you to come and see the fat lady or the dwarf.

Blaxploitation Film Icon Pam Grier

You do whatever you have to to sell tickets. Every picture is exploiting something and some audience. There was a long period when there were no black pictures. I guess Quentin Tarantino had something to do with the reemergence of black film, because he said a few nice things about the pictures and people started seeing them again. Black Caesar is really not any different from those Warner Bros. It really is the same kind of a story about the rise and fall of an American gangster. In Black Caesar, he loses everything and ends up in the gutter. He loses the woman who betrayed him, and he loses his entire empire.

AR: How did Black Caesar come about? LC: Sammy Davis Jr. He felt he was ready for a starring role of his own. So his manager, Sy Marsh, contacted me. They were great as gangsters, and I felt we could do a black gangster movie. The rise and fall of a Harlem gangster. Of course it took another 35 years for them to make American Gangster with Denzel Washington. So I was stuck with the treatment Black Caesar. Have you got anything? And we had a deal right there. So we were already off and rolling immediately— all thanks to Sammy Davis Jr. LC: No. It was pretty much the same.

Of course Fred Williamson brought something different to it; he brought glamour to it. Fred was a good-looking guy. You know, he wore the clothes beautifully. He looked very much like Denzel looked in the modern version of the picture. There are a lot of similarities there.

The shots look almost identical in the ad campaign shots, with him dressed up in his nice snazzy suit. AR: Did the critics or the studios tend to treat the blaxploitation films differently than they treated other pictures? LC: Well, you know, the critics never tended to treat any of the American International Pictures favorably. But they were never expected to get any critical raves.

They were just expected to make some money, to generate some activity at the box office. To tell you the truth, the reviews for Black Caesar were actually pretty good.

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They were better than they were for most AIP movies, but this was a better movie. It was a better script. LC: A lot of the other pictures are just a lot of brutality—a lot of going out and shooting people. It was just monotonous and vulgar. Our picture had its share of violence, but it all had something to do with the integral storyline or integral racism of America.

You know, the picture was about crooked New York cops, and, as it turns out, there really were crooked New York cops. It was about using teenage kids to run drugs and money in the underworld manipulated by the police department. And it turns out it was true. They were using black teenage kids to do that. I just basically concocted what turned out to be the truth. It sounded forced. LC: As I said, this was a good quality script.

Also, in working with the actors, I kind of let them get comfortable with the lines. If they wanted to change something or put it into their own words, we did that. I wanted it to feel natural rather than forced, as you say. And the actors felt comfortable with it, too. They had a good time, I had a good time. We shot up in Harlem. This was a period when some of the Hollywood movie companies were going up there to film movies like Across th Street , and they were shaken down by all the local black gangsters. You ever think of doing any acting? I even had them put into the ad campaign, on the poster.

After that, we owned Harlem. We never had any problem doing anything we wanted. Opening day at the Cinerama Theater, there were all these black gangsters standing around the theater, signing autographs. It was a very enjoyable shoot. AR: Did you sit in on any of the screenings? LC: The first big screening we had at the Pantages Theater was a disaster. Everybody loved the picture, but they hated the ending where Fred died. In the original version, he was killed by a gang of street kids who stole his wristwatch and everything.

They descend upon him like a pack of wolves and they kill him. When that happened, a lot of people in the audience—the black audience in particular—got angry. One black woman was screaming at me in the lobby. Black people are the most common victims of black crime.

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I went to the Cinerama Theater the morning the picture was gonna open. I went to the projectionist and identified myself. We went upstairs and we cut off the last scene of the picture. Then I went across town to another theater on 59th Street and introduced myself to the manager there. We then went up and cut off the last minute of the picture. We then went up to 86th Street and did the same thing. And the picture opened to be a huge success. Really big. I mean, they started putting in 3 a. The theater was closed for maybe three hours a day.

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Create a Want Tell us what you're looking for and once a match is found, we'll inform you by e-mail. Harry Potter. It was a terrible beating that lasted about 30 minutes. Review quote The lengthy filmography here should prove useful. I love trying to do the impossible. Because he pulled a terrific performance out of leading man Yaphet Kotto, the studios saw him as a white director who could work well with black actors. The oppression of black America was overwhelming.

They were running the picture continuously all day long. They raised the ticket prices by a dollar after the first couple of days. There was a line around the block. It was February, freezing cold, and the lines were up around the block. The police had those wooden horses put up, and people were waiting for an hour, hour and a half to see the picture.

I thought, Wow, this is great. Every movie is gonna be like this! Of course I was wrong, but. Cutting off the ending really just took a disaster and turned it into a success. So now he dies at the end. And in the foreign versions, which were again made from the original negative rather than the cut negative, he also dies at the end.

So there are two versions of the movie—the home video version and the theatrical cut. LC: Okay. AR: Fred Williamson. LC: I worked with Fred three times. The third film on which I worked with him was Original Gangstas, which he produced. As a producer, he was now saddled with the financial responsibilities. And that made him extremely nervous and tense and concerned. You do it. Rating details. Book ratings by Goodreads. Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book.

Close X. Learn about new offers and get more deals by joining our newsletter. Sign up now. This was a very good read. I think the fact that there's so much distance between the films in question and the times of the interviews that it allowed the subjects to be far more honest about that time. I just wish that the interviews were longer. Sep 01, Andrea rated it it was amazing Shelves: cinema. Kerri rated it it was amazing May 11, Mark rated it really liked it Mar 31, Spenser rated it liked it Jul 09, Robert Monroe rated it it was amazing May 26, Alex Bledsoe rated it it was amazing Mar 19, Marty rated it liked it Oct 24, Robert rated it it was ok Jul 06, Sean rated it it was amazing Dec 07, Michael Field rated it it was ok Jul 18, Jacob rated it it was amazing Apr 14, Mike added it Jul 22, Yasmin marked it as to-read Dec 12, Jbondandrews marked it as to-read Dec 12, Valjeanne Jeffers marked it as to-read Dec 18, Tedwood Alexander Peacock marked it as to-read Feb 15, Tim marked it as to-read May 12, Anonymous added it Oct 26, Gia marked it as to-read Mar 07, Scott Adams added it Dec 03, Exzentrius marked it as to-read Apr 29, S Hinchcliffe marked it as to-read Jul 20, Raymond Parker marked it as to-read Oct 09, Lawrenceg marked it as to-read Jan 05, Neil Sarver marked it as to-read Feb 10, Tribblemaker marked it as to-read Mar 20,