Grindhouse Classics : “Friday Foster”

Posted: April 21, 2013 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

friday_foster_01

So, I gotta ask — how come Arthur Marks’ 1975 Pam Grier starring vehicle Friday Foster doesn’t get a little bit more respect?

Okay, I’ll grant you — it’s not Coffy or anything, but Grier plays a feisty, intelligent, liberated woman who’s just as comfortable using her brains as her body to crack the case she’s working; she thinks on her feet (and yeah, okay, sometimes on her back); she mixes it up with the likes of Carl Weathers, Ted Lange (who plays pretty much the best movie pimp ever here), Godfrey Cambridge,  Thalmus Rasulala, Scatman Crothers, Yaphet Kotto and none other than Eartha Kitt herself; and if all that ain’t enough for ya, she gets naked a lot.

And yet — -despite all this, and despite a typically solid, workmanlike job from Marks (who also gave us Bucktown and Detroit 9000, among others), it seems this film is considered one of Pam’s weaker efforts, down there with the likes of Sheba, Baby.

This, dear friends, troubles me deeply.

Well, okay — not deeply. In fact, it’s probably not even fair to say that it “troubles” me at all. Maybe “perplexed” is a better word.  Shall we go with that?

grierrasulala-friday-foster

So here’s the rundown — Grier  plays an intrepid ex-model-turned-freelance photographer named, of course, Friday Foster, who gets more than she bargained for when, one night while trying to secretly catch a few snapshots of a guy named Blake Tarr (Rasulala), the “richest black man in America,” she actually witnesses his attempted assassination! Needless to say she’s soon thrown into a web of intrigue that sees her team up with grizzled P.I. Kotto, attempt to avoid being wiped out herself by hitman Weathers, try to coax the truth out of gay suspect Cambridge, match wits with dirty (in more ways than one) preacher Crothers, fight off the employment advances of — uhhmmm — “procurer” Lange, put up with the deliciously catty egotism of fashion designer Kitt, and eventually blow the lid off a scheme to kill basically every important black person in the country! Throw in none other than Jim Backus, better knows as Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island, as a racist politician, and again, I must ask — what’s not to love?

Okay, Pam doesn’t mix it up lady-street-fighter-style with anyone here, relying more on her wits, brains, and undeniable charm rather than her fists, but there’s still plenty of action on offer , and Marks moves things along at nice, snappy pace. There ain’t a dull moment to be had and the whole thing’s pure fun from start to finish. Yet folks seem to think this was the beginning of the end for Pam. I’d ask why one more time at this point, but I really hate repeating myself (too much), and anyway, I have no desire to bore you good folks.

167832_512x288_generated

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that this is a movie with, believe it or not, a certain amount of historical significance, since it’s based on Jim Lawrence and Jorge Longeron’s  newspaper comic strip of the same name — the first syndicated strip to feature an African American lead character. Take that, Boondocks! For whatever reason, the strip’s largely forgotten these days, but I’ve included a brief sample below just to give you a little taste of what it was like.

Friday-Foster-Comic-Strip

Friday Foster is available as a bare-bones, extras-free DVD from MGM/UA as part of their Soul Cinema collection (nicely-remastered widescreen picture, good enough mono sound) and is definitely worth another look if you haven’t seen it in some time — or worth a first look if you’ve never seen it at all. I feel quite confident you’ll walk away as — what was the word  we settled on again? — oh yeah, perplexed as I am as to why this isn’t a better-regarded example of blaxploitation cinema, since it’s got more or less everything you could possibly want and then some.

27616857866_p0_v1_s260x420

What’s not to love? You tell me. I honestly can’t figure it out for the life of me.

Comments
  1. Haven’t seen this one, but love Pam Grier. Loved her as the cruel Alabama in Women in Cages

  2. Friday Foster is my favorite of Pam Grier’s 70s roles. I agree that it seems unfairly overlooked.

    • trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

      Yeah, she’s absolutely terrific in it, the story’s a bunch of fun, and it has everything you could want. It’s not as intelligent or morally complex as “Coffy,” but it’s certainly at least as good as “Foxy Brown,” “Black Mama, White Mama,” etc. I don’t know why it seems to be sort of the “forgotten one” of all her films.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s