Friday Foster (1975)
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Grier stars as Friday Foster (real name? who knows?!), a photojournalist who becomes involved in a scheme to kill off all the black leaders of the world. Chasing criminals, sleeping with politicians, and brushing elbows with hired assassins, Friday saves the day and solves the case in the end.
OK, no Pam Grier kicking ass. So what? Here, this is where Grier got her acting chops. While previously in films like BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA, COFFY & FOXY BROWN, Grier was just a vehicle for action, here she is given a vivid character to perform with and does a superb job. Besides Grier, there are plenty of other blaxploitation regulars to savor: Godfrey Cambridge as a gay suspect; Eartha Kitt as Madame Rena, a flamboyant dress designer (always fun to see her); Carl Weathers as a hired assassin; Thalmus Rasulala as the richest black man in the world; Yaphet Kotto as Friday's cop boyfriend (he's great!); Scatman Crothers as a dirty old man preacher (criminally underused); and "Gilligan's Island" regular Jim Backus in a cameo as a sleazy white politician. Also appearing is Tierre Turner, the annoying little kid from BUCKTOWN, as Friday's kid brother.
While FRIDAY FOSTER might not be action-packed and an excellent Grier action vehicle, blaxploitation doesn't get any better than this. I might even say this is Grier's best 70s film besides COFFY, if only because she does her best acting job here. Recommended.
My favorite scene of all is when Ted Lange (Isaac from Love Boat) drives up in his Cadillac, trying to persuade Friday to join his harem. Pam is hilarious in this scene, as is Lange, with his WONDERFUL speech about his ladies' fine clothes, ride, heavy blow, and best of all, they each have their own personal health and welfare plan! Then cut to the 'ladies,' who are THE skankiest trash you could imagine. Friday refuses, and Fancy says 'Well, at least you have to admit my sh*t is HEEEEAAAAAAAVVVVVVYYYYYYY!' I'm sorry, who can resist this?
MINUTES after this we see Carl Weathers in his red-and-white plaid jacket with mirrored sunglasses! Then Chloris (friend of Friday's) throws MASSIVE shade at Friday for not running at her beck and call! Then Eartha Kitt delivers this speech about her new fashion collection, called 'the four seasons of S-E-X . rrroooawwww!' As you can see the hits come fast and furious in this little gem.
Special mention must be made of the fashion show. Four women come out VERY dramatically, as this insipid music repeats its four-bar melody over and over and over. They never alter the expression on their faces, they engage in these vogue-type gestures that are stiff and ridiculous after a certain point it becomes this sort of alien pantomime bearing no relation to anything human. Was this supposed, at one time, to be sexy? Is this what all our 'sexy' Britney's and co. will look like in 30 years? Take special note of the one in white--she looks like the creature from the black lagoon or that floating head from 'Zardoz,' and NEVER alters her living corpse expression.
Pam is great and fun as ever, and she has more to DO here than in Foxy Brown or Coffy, much as I love them. Here she plays more of a human with a sense of humor. There is also a parade of FIIIIINE-lookin' men ('You don't forget the fine-lookin' ones' says Friday), including Carl Weathers and Thalamus Rasulala.
There were also quite a few snappy little one-liners that went by so fast they're almost hard to catch. Anyway, not the best Pam Grier movie in terms of quality, but maybe the best in terms of fun, laughs, and just WAYYYY out-there 70s mojo.
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This film doesn't examine the dark side of street life, such as drug addiction or prostitution that was addressed in "Foxy Brown" and "Coffy", but it is still enjoyable if these films are your thing. There is still an abundance of funk music, crazy clothes & furniture, and that unmistakable 70's dialogue:
- "Is she crazy or something?" - "No, she's just all woman." - "Damn... I need a beer!"
"Friday Foster" is a worthy rental or purchase for the hardcore fans.
Friday Foster is literally a Who's Who of 70s black actors. In addition to the always delightful Pam Grier, the movie features Yaphet Kotto, Eartha Kitt, Scatman Crothers, Carl Weathers, Ted Lange, Godfrey Cambridge, Thalmus Rasulala (what an awesome name), and more. While many members of this large cast have little more than cameo appearances, it was a fun to see them all together. I especially enjoyed seeing Kotto work with Grier. I wish the pair had made more films together. They have a good on screen chemistry. Plus, regardless of how silly the situation, Kotto brings an air of credibility to the proceedings.
Unlike some of Grier's other films, Friday Foster has a decided lighthearted tone in comparison. That's not to say there aren't plenty of killings, but it never feels as depressing, downbeat, or serious as something like Coffy. It's a nice change of pace to see Grier laughing and joking with Kotto in many of the film's scenes. The action scenes are also good. One of my personal favorites is the rooftop chase with Kotto and Weathers. Very nice.
I'm a fan of 70s Blaxplotation (and Pam Grier in particular) and Friday Foster is a welcome addition to my video library.
I love blaxploitation films and I love Pam Grier (which is pretty much necessary given how much the two overlap). Here she is made out to be a very strong woman in a variety of ways -- head-strong, smart as a whip... and someone who sexually knows what they want (this is a fine line between "easy" and "determined", and Foster walks it well).
Is it the best of its kind? Probably not. But well worth a watch for fans of the genre, with some great supporting actors -- including Scatman Crothers, Eartha Kitt and Carl Weathers, among others. Unfortunately for us, this was Grier's final film with American International Pictures.
I think a lot of blaxploitation fans have a hard time getting their heads around this movie because it's a different role for Pam Grier than the gritty asskicker she played so well in movies like Coffy. Nonetheless, this film gives Pam an opportunity to show range as an actress. I think Pam Grier is one of the most beautiful actresses in the history of film with real star charisma. It's good to see her getting credit.
Although it has the elements of classic blaxploitation - car chases, shootouts - Friday Foster is fun, light hearted comic strip of a film. Definitely see it.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Friday starts snooping around but she is the target of one of the assassins (Carl Weathers) who recognizes her and she enlists the aide of her good friend Colt Hawkins (Yaphet Kotto) who's a private detective. Things lead to Senator David Lee Hart (Paul Benjamin) and Friday thinks that he may be behind the whole thing but as it turns out it's actually someone whom no one suspects and they're trying to kill all the other black leaders.
This film was directed by Arthur Marks (Bucktown, Detroit 9000) who has the experience in making these films but since he also wrote the story he can be looked at for most of the flaws here. This seems to lack the immediacy and raw edge of the other more affluent films such as "Coffy" and instead we're subjected to a film that is easily more comedic and convoluted. Kotto usually plays heavies and bad guys but in a change of pace he's regulated to being more of a sidekick here following Grier from one predicament to another. The script has Grier's character stopping at nothing to find out about who killed her friend and she steals a hearse at a funeral and later a milk truck. The story also has her going to bed with both businessman Tarr and Senator Hart without any qualms but she's still supposed to be attracted to Kotto's character Colt! Clearly the story could have been tightened up a bit but there are still reasons to view this including the familiar cast which has Eartha Kitt, Scatman Crothers, Ted Lange, Godfrey Cambridge, and a wheelchair bound Jim Backus. It wouldn't be a Pam Grier blaxploitation film without her nude scenes and she has about 3 of them which showcase her curvy and luscious body. Not one of the better films in this genre but one of the last which possesses enough fun and exploitation to satisfy it's fans.
But anyway, it's just a really cool movie. I have no doubt that they had fun making it.
Delivering the milk. Indeed!
Pam truly was a queen of Cool during this time, but her charming personality - and ample assets - can only do so much to enliven what is an underwhelming script (by Orville H. Hampton, based on a screen story by producer & director Arthur Marks). There is some bloody squib action going on, but the action in this movie is largely perfunctory. As in any Blaxploitation flick of this period, there is a certain degree of fun in checking out the fashions and listening to that funky music. (However, the score by Luchi De Jesus leans a little too heavily on a talk box.) Kotto offers one of his loosest ever performances, and is a great match for Pam. Supporting them are an impressive assortment of familiar faces: Godfrey Cambridge, Thalmus Rasulala, an amusingly hammy Eartha Kitt, Jim Backus (who's wasted in what amounts to a cameo role), Scatman Crothers, 'The Love Boat''s Ted Lange, Paul Benjamin, Jason Bernard, Julius Harris, and Carl Weathers in a pre-"Rocky" featured role as a none-too- competent hired killer.
All in all, this is an okay viewing for fans of Pam, but there's nothing terribly distinguished or memorable about it.
Six out of 10.
For some reason, Friday loses the sex and gore that give exploitation movies their crass charm, and instead amps up the humor and gunfire, neither of which are impressive enough to carry the film through its paces. While appearances from Yaphet Kotto and Carl Weathers certainly lively the party up a bit, fans of Grier's classics will find this outing tepid and disappointing.
The action setpieces are more ambitious than those in previous outings, but nowhere near as exciting. Grier shows a knack for chasing baddies in unique vehicles, and an extended car duel featuring Friday in a stolen hearse and a gangbusters scene of her storming the villains' fortress in a milk van certainly add a bit of flair. But this time out, Grier is notoriously absent from much of the gunplay, instead sticking to her rather subdued role as a photographer. Since we've grown accustomed to seeing Pam handing out beatdowns, it's definitely disappointing to see her doing little more than running here.
The humor seems a bit forced this time through, and sadly most of it is intentional. There are some great one liners throughout ("Damn, I need a beer!"), but some real groaners amp up the cheese factor and take away from any grittiness the film summons. The energy dims even during the most well-orchestrated bits of action, as in the climactic gun-battle, where automatic weapons rain fire in all directions, but don't seem to hit anyone. The gunmen in this film apparently miss a lot, and this is best demonstrated during a rooftop skirmish where Kotto shoots Weathers 5 times at point blank range, and somehow only makes two bullet holes in him.
In the end, the film isn't a complete waste of time, but there's little here that will draw fans back to this adventure instead of revisiting Pam in her defining roles. We know she's a lover, not a fighter. But she can certainly do more fighting than this.
Sure, Friday Foster isn't as hard-boiled as Pam's other Blaxploitation films. But it has more humor, and finesse than her other movies. Friday Foster was a role, where Pam revealed a surprising dexterity, as an actress. She was also allowed to be more glamorous as Friday Foster, than she ever was in either Coffy, or Foxy Brown.
Also Friday Foster had a much better supporting cast, than any of Pam Grier's other films. There was the superb Yaphet Kotto, as Friday's private eye friend, Cole Hawkins, who helps her nab the villains. Yaphet is very talented, and he really helps to carry this film. Other wonderful supporting actors in the film, include Eartha Kitt, Ted Lange, Godfrey Cambridge, and Gilligan Island's Jim Bacchas, as a sleazy politico.
I'd recommend Friday Foster to Blaxploitation film fans, who want to see Pam Grier in a classier, smoother role, than she was in either Coffy or Foxy Brown.
Her partner in (fighting) crime is Colt (Yaphet Kotto), a private detective who likes Friday, but with him she keeps it strictly platonic. She reserves her romantic side for Tarr and for Senator David Lee Hart (Paul Benjamin). A pre-Rocky Carl Weathers (as the hit-man Yarbro) gives chase to Friday for much of the film, and a pre-Love Boat Ted Lange is a young pimp who openly pines for Friday to join his enterprise. Other notable actors in the film include Earth Kitt, Scatman Crothers, Godfrey Cambridge, and Mr. Howell himself, Jim Backus. The action in the film is fast and slick, and the narrative manages to maintain a certain knowing campiness, despite the presumably serious political intrigue of the plot.
Produced and released during the wane of the black-action film trend of the 1970's, the film met with modest response at the box office; the summer success of "Jaws" lit the fuse that would explode with "Star Wars" two years later, and Hollywood abandoned low-budgeted action fare aimed at ethnics for bigger-budget 'mass-appeal' blockbusters.
But long after Blaxploitation is forgotten as a genre, "Friday Foster" will be an enjoyable action film. The violence and danger are real enough - and very well paced, but the script and the actors performing it are witty enough to avoid taking any of it too seriously. The political message is still there, but there's no attempt to beat us over the head with it.
Finally, it has to be noted that with this film Pam Grier at last came into her own as an actress. While her range is still limited by her age and experience, she has learned to push this range to its envelope and toy with expanding beyond it. Her inflection and diction in delivering her lines, along with her careful use of of her eyes and expression, are subtly rich in wit and focus, revealing as much of the character as the script itself.
"Coffy," Grier's best known film of that era, is not really a good film, and is not amusing enough as "bad but funny" for multiple viewings. "Friday Foster" is not "bad but funny" at all, it's just a good, well-made, fun action comedy.
Friday FOSTER finds Ms. Grier as a hot-shot photographer for Glance magazine. She gets a lead on the arrival of some big-wig and sneaks onto the runway at the airport. However, she walks into an attempted assassination! After that, she's pulled into all kinds of intrigue that never really scores. Too bad her character is more like a Black Barbie doll instead of the usual bad @ss she played in her good films. All her brashness is replaced by high fashion clothing and a by-the-numbers plot that could have been a "Charlie's Angels" plot--seriously.
Now this film could have been a lot better. After all, it had a very good cast (including Carl Weathers, Julius Harris, Yaphet Kotto and Godfrey Cambridge. However, it all just seemed so unreal and poorly written. Pam with a camera instead of a gun just didn't pack much entertainment punch. Heck, you know it's lame when instead of blowing away bad-guy Weathers, she shoots him with pepper spray. Lame! And, when the evil assassins strike, they only chose methods with the lowest probability of success!!! Knives, runaway cars that inexplicably miss the heroine and explode and gunmen who can't hit anything make for one of the weakest gangs in film history! The only good hit (and it was GREAT---almost worth seeing the film just for this one) involved a phone booth and a huge truck--but naturally this was aimed only at a minor character and not Ms. Grier.
If there was a reason to watch this movie, it's so you can see the zombie fashion show about 25 minutes into the film! It's a high fashion show starring a strange Eartha Kitt (by her performance, I think she thought she's supposed to be Catwoman). As she introduces the models, each comes out in atrocious 70s dresses and moves about exactly like the undead as Kitt purrs like Batman's rival---seriously! It is meant to be hot, but frankly it's one of the funnier scenes in a bad blaxploitation film you can find.
Another possible reason might be to see Ted Lange (from "Love Boat") playing a completely stereotypical 70s pimp. Instead of mixing drinks and dispensing wisdom, here he spouts Huggy Bear-like dialog that can't help but elicit laughs. I really wish he'd acted this way on "Love Boat"--it would have been hysterical! Or, perhaps people who hate Godfrey Cambridge would want to see it because this film couldn't help but sink his career. His mincing homosexual routine is pretty embarrassing--as well as awfully offensive when seen today--at least to some in the audience. Others might just laugh at its lack of subtlety.
A final reason to see the film is to witness the most amazing and warmest winter in Washington, DC history. I grew up there and was amazed to see all the trees were filled with green leaves and people were dressed like it was May! I was there in 1975 but somehow missed out on this anomaly! My recall is that the temperatures were in the 30s...like every other winter in this city!! I also loved the mountains in the outskirts of DC (and no, I am NOT talking about the Appalachians). Strange how they looked like the same ones in Los Angeles! Great continuity, huh?!
However, other than for laughs or curiosity or a hatred of Mr. Cambridge, I just can't see why you'd want to see this until you've first seen and enjoyed GOOD blaxploitation films! Trust me--you can do a lot better than this overly-polished but bland film.
You know this is a REAAALLLY lame film where "Mr. Big" turns out to be Jim Backus!! So apparently THAT'S how Thurston Howell III got all that money!!