6.6/10
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87 user 64 critic

Shaft (1971)

Trailer
3:07 | Trailer
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 »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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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)
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

At the beginning of the film, Shaft passes a large poster for Neil Simon's Broadway play "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" that was playing at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre at the time and would soon be made into the film - Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1972). Beside it is another Broadway play's poster for "The Gingerbread Lady" which was playing at the Plymouth Theatre (Gerald Shoenfeld Theatre since 2005). Also, beside it, is a poster for the long-running musical "Hair" that was playing at the Biltmore Theatre (Samuel J. Friedman Theatre since 2008), and that would be made into the film Hair (1979). See more »

Goofs

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 »

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

Most UK video versions, including the widescreen Maverick Directors release, feature an edited print of the film which is dubbed to remove strong language. DVD releases are fully uncut. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Fugitive Alien (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Bumpy's Blues
(uncredited)
Composed by Isaac Hayes
Performed by Isaac Hayes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Roundtree's performance
15 June 2007 | by winner55See all my reviews

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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