• Post category:Movies
  • Post last modified:October 5, 2020



Private detective John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) is hired by a Harlem mob boss (Moses Gunn) to find his kidnapped daughter. A prime example of 1970s blaxploitation cinema, starring an African-American hero who is irresistible to women and a man of action on the cold streets of New York City. A deliberately exaggerated portrait of manhood that comes with bombastic violence and a brilliant music score that will grab your attention right from the start. At heart it’s a smart update of a classic genre where the story matters less than the style. Roundtree is having a lot of fun with his street-smart character.

1971-U.S. 100 min. Color. Produced by Joel Freeman. Directed by Gordon Parks. Screenplay: Ernest Tidyman, John D. F. Black. Novel: Ernest Tidyman. Music: Isaac Hayes, Johnny Allen. Cast: Richard Roundtree (John Shaft), Moses Gunn (Bumpy Jonas), Charles Cioffi (Vic Androzzi), Christopher St. John, Drew Bundini Brown, Gwenn Mitchell… Antonio Fargas.

Trivia: Followed by two sequels, starting with Shaft’s Big Score! (1972), and a TV series, Shaft (1973-1974). Rebooted as Shaft (2000) and Shaft (2019).

Oscar: Best Original Song (”Theme from Shaft”). Golden Globe: Best Original Score. 

Last word: “People come up and ask me if we really need this image of Shaft the black superman. Hell, yes, there’s a place for John Shaft. I was overwhelmed by our world premiere on Broadway. Suddenly, I was the perpetrator of a hero. Ghetto kids were coming downtown to see their hero, Shaft, and here was a black man on the screen they didn’t have to be ashamed of. Here they had a chance to spend their $3 on something they wanted to see. We need movies about the history of our people, yes, but we need heroic fantasies about our people, too. We all need a little James Bond now and then.” (Parks in 1972, RogerEbert.com)



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