Saturday, August 20, 2016

#2,179. Friday Foster (1975)

Directed By: Arthur Marks

Starring: Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto, Godfrey Cambridge

Tag line: "Wham! Bam! Here comes Pam!"

Trivia: This movie was based on a newspaper comic strip that debuted January 18, 1970

A photographer for Glance magazine, Friday Foster (Pam Grier) is sent to the airport on New Year’s Eve to snap some pictures of millionaire Blake Tarr (Thalmus Rasulala), who is flying in on his private jet. But instead of a few secret photos for the gossip column, Friday witnesses an assassination attempt, during which Tarr is shot in the shoulder. A day later, Friday’s good friend Cleve (Tierre Turner), a professional model, is stabbed in the back while working a fashion show, and before dying tells Friday about a secret organization with the codename “Black Widow”, which was also behind the attempt on Tarr’s life. Figuring she now knows too much, one of the assassins from the airport (Carl Weathers) pays Friday a visit, but misses his chance to finish her off.

Pulled into the middle of a dangerous situation, Friday takes matters into her own hands, and, with the help of Private Investigator Colt Hawkins (Yaphet Kotto), uses her guile, as well as her body, to learn everything she can about Black Widow. Some believe U.S. Senator Hart (Paul Benjamin) is the man in charge of this terrorist organization, while others are convinced Tarr himself is the ringleader, and that the airport shooting was staged to take the heat off of him. Which of the two is behind this string of recent killings, or is someone else responsible for the violence? With Friday Foster on the case, you can be damn sure she’ll find out sooner or later!

Directed by Arthur Marks and based on a popular comic strip, Friday Foster is a bit different from previous Pam Grier vehicles (Coffy, Foxy Brown) in that its lead isn’t out for revenge. And while Friday definitely has guts, she doesn’t get in on the action nearly as much as the actress’s other characters have in the past, relying instead on her cohorts (mostly Colt Hawkins) to handle the heavy stuff (when the assassin breaks into her apartment to kill her, Friday, who was in the shower at the time, throws on a towel and runs out the front door). But make no mistake: Friday Foster is tough-as-nails (she crashes a swanky dinner party to confront Senator Hart, and over the course of the movie steals a few vehicles, including a hearse). What’s more, Friday is drop-dead sexy, and willing to go the “extra mile” to get the information she needs.

As for the supporting cast, it’s positively gargantuan. Aside from Kotto (Alien, Live and Let Die), Rasulala (Blacula, Bucktown), Benjamin (Do the Right Thing), and Weathers (Rocky, Predator), Friday Foster co-stars Eartha Kitt (Catwoman in the ‘60s Batman series) as a high-profile fashion designer; Scatman Crothers (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining) as a horny Reverend; Ted Lange (Isaac the Bartender in the ‘70s program The Love Boat) as a pimp who showers Friday with gifts; Godfrey Cambridge (Watermelon Man, Cotton Comes to Harlem) as an effeminate inside man; and Jim Backus (Thurston Howell in Gilligan’s Island) as the mysterious Enos Griffith, a man with considerable influence in Washington, D.C, All deliver fine performances, but credit must also be given to director Marks, who did an outstanding job balancing his large cast, as well as the film’s complex story of power and deceit. With so much going on, it would have been easy to get lost along the way, but thanks to Marks’ steady hand I had no problem whatsoever following this movie.

Yet as good as Marks and the other actors are, Friday Foster belongs to Pam Grier, who once again shows the world that a woman can be tough and sexy at the same time.

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