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 was proof positive that she could carry an entire film by herself. 

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 dealer in the city. 

But Coffy soon realizes that pimps and pushers are small time; if she wants to end drug trafficking one and for all, she’ll have to bring down the syndicate’s top men, and that’s a war she may not be able to win. 

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

In scenes such as these, Grier is as tough as they come, but in Coffy she proves that she's just as effective when playing sexy. Her charisma is on full display in the scenes where she’s posing as Mystique, a Jamaican prostitute working for a pimp known as King George (Robert DoQui). Grier is absolutely mesmerizing in these sequences. 

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. It was her performance that lifted the movie to a higher level, and her power and charm burned brightly throughout the entire movie. 

It's thanks to Pam Grier that Coffy was much more than the standard grindhouse fare.


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!