John Shaft is the ultimate in suave black detectives. He first finds himself up against Bumpy, the leader of the Black crime mob, then against Black nationals, and finally working with both against the White Mafia who are trying to blackmail Bumpy by kidnapping his daughter. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ron O'Neal (Super Fly (1972)) auditioned for the role of John Shaft, but was turned down because the producers felt his skin complexion was too light. See more »
In the beginning when Shaft is walking across a street, an overhead shot shows him walking past a taxi and nearly getting hit by a brown car. However, a street-level shot shows Shaft standing in front of and giving the finger to the taxi. See more »
[holding up his middle finger to a cab driver who is honking his horn at him]
Up yours! Get out the way!
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"Shaft" was without a doubt one of those films that broke the mold of stereotypes and opened the floodgates to the blaxploitation renaissance of the Black Cinema Movement during the 1970's. It also introduced us to the world the Black Cinema's first-ever African-American actor as a figure of authority as well as a superhero of sorts. In other words,a man who was taking charge of his own actions and not by the MAN. Filmdom's first ever Black detective is one that was very successful in this first ever series of SHAFT movies including its two sequels and a short-lived television series. However,this film was the second feature to be directed by former Life Magazine photographer Gordon Parks Sr.,who was coming off of his most successful film,"The Learning Tree",which was released by another studio and was the first Black director to have his film financed by a major Hollywood studio at the time(Warner Bors. Pictures).
SHAFT was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the summer of 1971.
This time around,his second feature brought out his talent for capturing an image and his personal insight of life on the streets and in the ghettos to bring to the screen a hard-hitting,gritty,and edgy to the core crime-drama thriller based on the novel by Ernest Tidyman,who wrote the screenplay along with screenwriter John D.F. Black and produced by Sterling Silliphant and Roger Lewis. Its also to note out that this film introduce audiences to the world Richard Roundtree in the title role,who was a former Ebony male-model before he made his mark as an actor in motion pictures and SHAFT was basically the jumpstart from the beginning and set the tone for others blaxploitation films of the 1970's to follow. The plot,about a private detective hired by a Harlem mobster(Moses Gunn)to find his missing daughter who goes through the infiltration of the mob before finding and rescuing the girl is solid entertainment that doesn't disappoint and keeps the audience in check with hard-hitting suspense and tense action throughout. Although there several obvious racial tensions throughout the film,director Gordon Parks keeps these tensions in check who keeps his focus mainly on the humanistic elements of the character. It is also to note that the depth that goes beyond the image of the super-slick,tough as nails detective is showing other sides of his personality. At the time SHAFT was released in 1971,its studio,the great MGM was facing bankruptcy,and the studio bosses at MGM figured that SHAFT would make a lot of money. Well,it did. And did execeptionally well making it one of the highest grossing box office films of that year and one of the top five box office gross films of 1971 and it helped keep MGM in business. It is also to note that composer Issac Hayes,made history as well by being the first African-American in history to win the Academy Award for Best Musical Score,which to goes to note one of the most famous scores in music history.
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