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Cleopatra Jones is a United States Special Agent assigned to crack down on drug-trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. After she burns a Turkish poppy field, the notorious drug-lord Mommy is furious at the loss of her supply and vows to destroy Cleopatra Jones. Mommy uses her connections with bad cops on the force to cause trouble for Cleopatra's friends and set her up for an attack. Meanwhile, Mommy is having trouble with some of her pushers, like the renegade Doodlebug. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Cleo's ride in the film is a customized black and silver 1973 Corvette Stingray. When she opens the door to get out, the T-bar panel in the roof above the driver's seat automatically opens as well so she can get out without squashing her afro. See more »
During the chase scene, the red Mustang starts off having no hubcaps, but later in the shot, we see one fly off, and the remaining hubcaps in later scenes. See more »
Shit! What's wrong with you woman? Why can't you just open a door like a normal person?
See more »
Back in the Seventies, mainstream audiences still reeling from the one-two punch of Shaft and Superfly were subjected to a barrage of ghetto avengers - Black Caesar, Willie Dynamite, The Candy Tangerine Man and the rest - all covering depressingly familiar terrain. Black writer Max Julien (also an actor, playing the lead role in the pimpsploitation classic The Mack) offered AiP his script for a female alternative but passed. Warner was quick to snatch up the rights, and in 1973 foisted the first black superchick onto the American public: Cleopatra Jones.
The film opens with a blazing opium field somewhere in Turkey. Cleo Jones, hap-ki-do expert and international do-gooder, returns to America to report on her success as a 'special agent' in her one-woman war on dope. Lesbian drug baroness Mommy (Shelley Winters, fresh from Corman's Bloody Mama) is furious her poppy fields were torched, and threatens an all-out war between the Brothers and the Mothers. One of Mommy's uppity underlings, Doodlebug (Antonio Fargas, best remembered as Huggy Bear in Starsky And Hutch) is getting rich off stealing Mommy's coke, and provides a cautionary moral aside warning against living as a White Man's flunky (Cleo points to Doodlebug's white chauffeur, and asks "What next - two white jockeys on the lawn?"). With a "whacka-whacka" superfunk guitar in the background, Cleo does her chop-sockey routine on the coke dealers and crooked cops, and kicks Shelley Winters' portly ass for her wild overacting in the final showdown. Tamara Dobson as Cleo Jones reportedly stood 6"2, and that doesn't include what must've been the BIGGEST afro in the business! Despite her physical prowess, the script doesn't give Cleo any real motive for her cartoon crusade (unlike the later Coffy and Foxy Brown) and reduces her to a smug self-satisfied cardboard cutout. Add the sloppy direction by Jack Starrett and you get a surprisingly poor release by a major studio.
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