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Shaft (1971)

3:07 | Trailer
Cool black private eye John Shaft is hired by a crime lord to find and retrieve his kidnapped daughter.


Gordon Parks


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





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


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


The mob wanted Harlem back. They got Shaft...up to here. See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


During the scene where Bumpy Jonas visits Shaft at his office, a door adjacent to the office says "Skloot Insurance" - named for Steven P. Skloot, a production manager on the film. See more »


When Shaft gets hit with the machine gun, one of the wounds is to his head - you can clearly see blood there. Yet after the doctor works on him and gets him patched up, all signs of the head wound have vanished - there's no scar or patch there. 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 »

Alternate Versions

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


Referenced in Luke Cage: Code of the Streets (2016) See more »


Ellie's Love Theme
Composed by Isaac Hayes
Performed by Isaac Hayes
See more »

User Reviews

Soulful, powerful, respectful.
25 June 2013 | by DabaensSee all my reviews

From out of the surge of the many blaxploitation films following the release of Melvin Van Peeble's 'Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song' comes 'Shaft', directed in 1971 by Gordon Parks. 'Shaft' seems to have stood out from the others within this exclusive genre, and rightfully so for its smooth and funky approach towards a division of films that's been dominated by white leads. Richard Roundtree plays John Shaft, the big badass private eye of New York City, and displays a confident, sexy and tough attitude that makes him such a memorable character. This film is rich with soul, and features the funky music of Isaac Hayes to complete the tribute to black culture in that time. These are the elements that contribute to its significant value among blaxploitation films.

The film features a typical storyline that's nothing out of the ordinary among crime films; John Shaft is hired by a crime lord to rescue his daughter from a group of Italian mob figures trying to take over territory in Harlem. While this film is more commonly known as a blaxploitation film, it actually contains a few characteristics of film noir, which certainly adds to its uniqueness in its time. The setting takes place in the suburbs of New York, and mostly appears rather gloomy and unemotional throughout the movie. The highlight of the city though is when Shaft is walking through the streets to the funky music of Isaac Hayes, who sings of the life of black culture within the city.

Shaft rarely shows much emotion in this film, and often acts reserved among the people around him. He maintains a composure and attitude that should be respected and in turn delivers a strong representation for the black community. His character alone makes this movie a considerably powerful film that speaks loudly and gives the black community a powerful character in film they can find inspiration in.

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Release Date:

2 July 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Shaft See more »


Box Office


$1,125,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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