Failing to kill anymore because of his conscience, a troubled hit-man seeks aid from a forger to help him get papers to China. However, the drug-lord has hired replacements to finish the job and kill the hit-man.
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 <email@example.com>
During the scene where Bumpy Jonas visits Shaft at his office, a door adjacent to the office says "Skloot Insurance" - named for Steven P. Skloot, a production manager on the film. See more »
The month calendar in Shaft's office is January 1971 (February 1971 is also posted on the wall in a "next month" style arrangement). But in Lt. Androzzi's office, the date calendar reads Tuesday January 27 and later Thursday January 29. 27 January 1971 was a Wednesday and 29 January 1971 was a Friday. 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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This is not a great film, but it is one of the most important films in American history.
The film suffers primarily because Parks isn't sure whether he wants to direct a 'relevant' black crime drama - for which he doesn't really have the money - or a film of the genre that became infamous as "blaxploitation", which had at that time not yet achieved definition. In other words, Parks is breaking new ground, and he wasn't sure exactly what ground he is breaking. So the film tends to amble, and sometimes even stagger, as it tries to define a goal for itself.
Nonetheless, this is the first film where a strong black man in a truly heroic role - without the props of white liberal social blather, and without being borderline criminal - is portrayed without excuses or apologies. Shaft is truly a hero of his time, part Sam Spade (& no jokes here, please), part James Bond - and all man - intelligent, fast to act, direct and always true to himself - he's nobody's "boy".
Although these qualities are in the script, the communication of the message depends entirely on Richard Roundtree - one of the truly great action actors of Hollywood history - hey, I'm a white boy, and I still want to be this John Shaft! he's that cool. The marginalization of this savvy and witty actor, due to the racism of Hollywood, is a real crime.
Well, for now, never mind; his performance alone carries this film, and makes it a treasure; and no matter how badly Hollywood marginalizes black action cinema, Roundtree's performance will continue to stand tall, for many generations to come.
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