Saturday, August 14, 2010

#8. Coffy (1973)

Directed By: Jack Hill

Starring: Pam Grier, Booker Bradshaw, Robert DoQui

Tag line: "No one sleeps when they mess with Coffy!"

Trivia:  Vitroni's home was actually that of western movie legend Roy Rogers

Coffy was one of Pam Grier’s first starring roles, and her performance proved she had the talent to carry an entire film on her shoulders. 

Coffy (Grier) is a night nurse whose eleven-year-old sister is addicted to heroin. When contaminated drugs cause the girl to suffer irreparable brain damage, Coffy takes to the streets for revenge, declaring war on every dope pusher in the city. But Coffy soon realizes pimps and pushers are small time, and if she’s to have any impact at all, she’ll have to bring down the syndicate’s top men. And that’s a whole different war, one she may not have the power to win. 

Grier plays Coffy as both tough and sexy, often switching from one to the other within the same scene. In order to trap a dealer named Sugarman (Morris Buchanan), Coffy pretends to be a strung-out junkie who’ll do anything for a fix. Sugarman, who can’t resist Coffy’s intense sexual energy, is only too happy to take her up on her offer. When she’s finally lured Sugarman into the bedroom, Coffy pulls out a shotgun and blows his head clean off. 

In scenes such as these, Grier leaves little doubt that she can play tough, and do so quite well. But in Coffy, Grier is most effective when playing sexy. Her sexual magnetism is overpowering, like in the scenes where she’s posing as a Jamaican prostitute named Mystique, working for a pimp known as King George (Robert DoQui). Grier is absolutely beguiling in these sequences, and she got to me in a big way. 

Coffy is a harsh, dramatic film, and director Jack Hill, himself a legend of exploitation cinema, certainly had a great deal to do with its success. But a large portion of the credit must ultimately go to the dynamic Ms. Grier. Thanks to her charisma, the film proved to be much more than your typical genre piece; it reverberated with her allure, her power, and her charms, and, as a result, was transformed into something much more substantial.


Unknown said...

Pam Grier is a force to be reckoned with in this great example of the "blaxploitation movie genre". The director commentary was very insightful. This movie was delightful; slightly ridiculous and over-the-top, a total guilty pleasure. Loved it!!

DVD Infatuation said...

@Jill: This, for me, is Pam Grier's best '70s film (and it's close to her best overall, along with JACKIE BROWN). Glad you enjoyed it!