Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cleopatra Jones (1973)

Director: Jack Starrett

Starring: Tamara Dobson, Bernie Casey, Brenda Sykes, Antonio Fargas, Dan Frazer, Bill McKinney, Stafford Morgan

More info: IMDb

Tagline: 6 feet 2" and all of it Dynamite!

Plot: Cleopatra Jones is a United States Special Agent assigned to crack down on drug-trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. After she burns a Turkish poppy field, the notorious drug-lord Mommy is furious at the loss of her supply and vows to destroy Cleopatra Jones. Mommy uses her connections with bad cops on the force to cause trouble for Cleopatra's friends and set her up for an attack. Meanwhile, Mommy is having trouble with some of her pushers, like the renegade Doodlebug.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

#7 on Blaxploiteasin' (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

Hmmmm. Where to start with this one…Well, it looks good. That’s not much but where else can you go? Dobson makes a reasonable lead but she’s not charismatic enough to carry the film. Maybe they could’ve written the role better. It felt like she was doing what was asked but not adding anything extra, the kind of extra someone like James Cagney put into every performance. It’s that twinkle in the eye or that little something in the way you walk or move. My guess is it was because she was a fashion model and not a trained actress. She was nimble, I’ll give her that much. She gets a few opportunities to kick those long legs up past her head. That’s impressive. I don’t think I have the agility to kick Mini Me in the face.

Shelley Winters is an over the top mob boss that swears a lot. She was fun but she doesn’t have much screen time. Having more of her would’ve definitely been an improvement, especially if she had a more physical role. I’ve grown to love her over the past few years because of her genre work in the 70s. Her turn in POOR PRETTY EDDIE (1975) is wonderful to watch. It’s such a sleazy flick that it’s remarkable to see a two-time Oscar winner being anywhere near it AND put in a good performance. She brought it regardless of what it was and that's admirable.

Other than Winters being the biggest asset, everything else is just mediocre. CLEOPATRA JONES needed more action and less everything else. Dobson’s outfits were fun her Corvette Stingray was fucking badass but it lacked a lot of things that you expect in this genre. Consider it Blaxploitation-Lite. I’m now bound to watch the awesomely titled sequel, CLEOPATRA JONES AND THE CASINO OF GOLD (1975). Oh, please let her carry a whip. That would make my day.

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