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Shaft (1971)

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3:07 | Trailer

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

Director:

Gordon Parks

Writers:

Ernest Tidyman (screenplay), John D.F. Black (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,160 ( 762)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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More Like This 

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Roundtree ... John Shaft
Moses Gunn ... Bumpy Jonas
Charles Cioffi ... Vic Androzzi
Christopher St. John ... Ben Buford
Gwenn Mitchell Gwenn Mitchell ... Ellie Moore
Lawrence Pressman ... Tom Hannon
Victor Arnold ... Charlie
Sherri Brewer Sherri Brewer ... Marcy
Rex Robbins Rex Robbins ... Rollie
Camille Yarbrough Camille Yarbrough ... Dina Greene
Margaret Warncke Margaret Warncke ... Linda
Joseph Leon Joseph Leon ... Byron Leibowitz
Arnold Johnson Arnold Johnson ... Cul
Dominic Barto Dominic Barto ... Patsy
George Strus George Strus ... Carmen
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Hotter than Bond, Cooler than Bullitt. See more »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 July 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Shaft See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,125,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$12,121,618, 31 December 1971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Moses Gunn's character, Bumpy Jonas, is based on Bumpy Johnson, an African-American mobster in the 1930s. See more »

Goofs

During Bumpy's visit to Shaft's office, the hat Bumpy is wearing changes. As Bumpy faces Shaft, the brim is turned down all the way around the hat. There is also a small gold buckle seen on the leather hat band. When the camera moves to Bumpy's left, to include Shaft, the hat's brim is turned up in back, and the buckle is missing. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Alternate Versions

CBS edited 28 minutes from this film for its 1975 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Futurama: Raging Bender (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Theme from Shaft
(uncredited)
Composed by Isaac Hayes
Performed by Isaac Hayes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Shaft. John Shaft.
16 December 2000 | by Mr. PulseSee all my reviews

I first saw this movie three years ago with a bunch of friends. We laughed ourselves to death, and it was the start of a budding interesting in watching poorly made films as a death sport (Trust me, the worse they are, the more they are a battle with your own mortality). In any event, we had a ball laughing at the time capsule elements of the film; the hair, the clothes, the dialogue, and above all as many puns on the name Shaft as we could think of ("Uh oh! The police want Shaft! H'yuck!"). Watching the film now I find it rather interesting; as far as bad movies go, there are movies that are infinitely worse, and as far as good movies go, there are movies that are infinitely better.

Unlike a lot of poor blaxploitation movies I've seen, this one has a decent plot, some interesting characters, and a slick look, as directed by Gordon Parks. They seem to have a pretty good idea how to make a movie. Sure they characters say stuff like "Don't jive me!" but c'mon that was the time. I guess then this film was cutting edge in its own way.

The character of Shaft fascinates me. Here's a character who uses women without remorse and without consequences, treats his one friend like a jerk, uses people, and helps out a ruthless gangster because the price is right. He's also one of the coolest characters ever presented on screen (The comparison to James Bond is actually pretty apt). I love it when a protagonist defies conventions, and man, if ever a character did, it was Shaft.

Still the plot, involving a black mobster whose daughter is kidnapped by the Mafia starts strong but loses steam by the end. The white villains are faceless (A nice change from racist Hollywood movies, but still), and while the film begins with some excellent twists, nothing suprising or very exciting happens in the last half hour. I kept expecting some characters with very questionable loyalties to double cross Shaft, but they never do. The film ends with a raid on an apartment, but the ramifications with the mob, the men who help Shaft, or the police are never shown. In a way, it works cause the film does things the way it wants, but still it's not a very satifying end to things.

I guess now older, wiser, and a tad (Just a tad, perhaps even as much as a smidge) more mature, I can appreciate Shaft as a decent crime flick, with a great (I probably should say "right on") protagonist. And yes, it is campy and out of date, but that adds to the fun. Still, I think it's a better film that I used to give it credit for. Or maybe "shaft" jokes just aren't as funny to me as they used to be.


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