Shaft (1971)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Thriller  |  2 July 1971 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.6/10 from 11,727 users  
Reviews: 79 user | 48 critic

Cool black private eye John Shaft is hired by a crime lord to find and retrieve his kidnapped daughter.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $0.99 on Amazon Video

Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Shaft is back to find the murderer of an old friend on the cold hard city streets with a little help from his new friends.

Director: Gordon Parks
Stars: Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn, Drew Bundini Brown
Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

P.I. John Shaft is recruited to go undercover to break up a modern slavery ring where young Africans are lured to Paris to do chain-gang work.

Director: John Guillermin
Stars: Richard Roundtree, Frank Finlay, Vonetta McGee
Super Fly (1972)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The daily routine of cocaine dealer Priest who wants to score one more super deal and retire.

Director: Gordon Parks Jr.
Stars: Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, Sheila Frazier
Shaft (2000)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

New York City police detective John Shaft (nephew of the original 1970s detective) goes on a personal mission to make sure the son of a real estate tycoon is brought to justice after a racially-motivated murder.

Director: John Singleton
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Christian Bale
Foxy Brown (1974)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A voluptuous black woman takes a job as a high-class prostitute in order to get revenge on the mobsters who murdered her boyfriend.

Director: Jack Hill
Stars: Pam Grier, Antonio Fargas, Peter Brown
Coffy (1973)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A black nurse takes vigilante justice against inner-city drug dealers after her sister becomes their latest victim.

Director: Jack Hill
Stars: Pam Grier, Booker Bradshaw, Robert DoQui
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

After saving a Black Panther from some racist cops, a black male prostitute goes on the run from "the man" with the help of the ghetto community and some disillusioned Hells Angels.

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Stars: Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales
The Mack (1973)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Goldie returns from five years at the state pen and winds up king of the pimping game. Trouble comes in the form of two corrupt white cops and a crime lord who wants him to return to the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Campus
Stars: Max Julien, Don Gordon, Richard Pryor
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

During the 1970s, U.S. Special Agent Cleopatra Jones proves to be an invaluable asset to the local police forces in the war on drugs.

Director: Jack Starrett
Stars: Tamara Dobson, Bernie Casey, Brenda Sykes
Black Caesar (1973)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy, his leg is broken by a bad cop on the take, during a payoff gone bad. Nursing his ... See full summary »

Director: Larry Cohen
Stars: Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry, Art Lund
Truck Turner (1974)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Truck is a bounty hunter who gets a job to track down a guy named Gator. When he and his partner find him, a chase ensues and Gator is killed. This makes Gator's woman, Dorinda, very angry ... See full summary »

Director: Jonathan Kaplan
Stars: Isaac Hayes, Yaphet Kotto, Alan Weeks
Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are two black cops with a reputation for breaking the odd head. Both are annoyed at the success of the Reverend Deke O'Mailey who is selling trips ... See full summary »

Director: Ossie Davis
Stars: Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques, Calvin Lockhart


Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Cioffi ...
Vic Androzzi
Christopher St. John ...
Ben Buford
Gwenn Mitchell ...
Ellie Moore
Tom Hannon
Victor Arnold ...
Sherri Brewer ...
Rex Robbins ...
Camille Yarbrough ...
Dina Greene
Margaret Warncke ...
Joseph Leon ...
Byron Leibowitz
Arnold Johnson ...
Dominic Barto ...
George Strus ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Wanna see Shaft? Better ask yo' mamma. (Trailer) See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 July 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les nuits rouges de Harlem  »

Box Office


$1,125,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Was rumored to be written as just another detective movie, with a white detective in the lead, but, after the success of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971), the film was rewritten and recast as a blaxploitation movie. This story has been told several times by director Melvin Van Peebles. However, it is probably apocryphal. The Ernest Tidyman novel which was the basis for the film is about a black detective and not a white one. See more »


When Shaft pushes one of Bumpy's goons into his office, the sound of glass breaking is heard, but the glass window in the office door is clearly undamaged until a short time later. See more »


[first lines]
John Shaft: [holding up his middle finger to a cab driver who is honking his horn at him] Up yours! Get out the way!
See more »


Referenced in Barney Miller: Ambush (1975) See more »


Shaft Strikes Again
Composed by Isaac Hayes
Performed by Isaac Hayes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Classic bit of black-ploitation
27 May 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

John Shaft is a private detective in Harlem. He is hired by pimp and drug dealer Bumpy Jonas to find Bumpy's daughter who has been kidnapped by an unknown party. Shaft investigates the local Panther organisation but ultimately finds that an Italian mob is trying to move in on Bumpy's territory. With all parties at conflict Shaft must keep his cool to get the girl back.

Ay the start of a decade filled with cheap movies aimed at getting the black audience a product aimed at them in particular. Many of these were poor but Shaft stood out because it could have been a film in it's own right. The story is a normal detective movie with a black twist and that helps – because it's not forced at all. The story is gritty and tough as befits the setting and the hero.

Shaft is tough but hadn't yet turned into 007 (as he did in Shaft's Big Score), this makes him tough but also keeps him down to earth. Roundtree handles himself sexily and looks great – the film very much revolves around his performance and he holds the attention easily.

The film eventually gets into gun fights and an exciting conclusion but really this is all about mood and funk. And it delivers both.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Shaft vs. Superfly rbowles-2
Painting on the wall Holger1974
differences in the soundtrack jh87
Films like Shaft...Superfly HarmerTHH
Afrolicious! a_spike_lee_joint
Great Ending sherlock-37
Discuss Shaft (1971) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: