Foxy Brown (1974)
Written and directed by Jack Hill

It's tempting to assert that a lot of 70s blaxploitation movies are stone-cold classics, some of the best films ever made. In a way, they are, and Foxy Brown is certainly near the top of the heap. But once you wipe away the misty awe of wanting them to be classics, you must admit that in most cases, these films are what they are … low-budget camp.

Foxy was originally conceived as a sequel to Coffy, and carries Jack Hill's subversive signature all the way. It's a paradox that Hill (a rather soft-spoken white guy) made some of the most out-of-control anti-white movies of the 70s, and this one is filled to the Brim® with scenes of honkey humiliation (including a hilarious one in which a crooked judge is stripped of his boxers, verbally emasculated, then thrown out literally on his ass into a hotel hallway). It even climaxes with the main white male villain getting castrated with a giant black knife!

Not comfortable to sit through, by any means. But Pam Grier is fantastic throughout, alternately vicious and sexy (sometimes at the same time). Antonio Fargas is a delight as Foxy's scheming drug-dealer brother; he manages to remain sympathetic even when he's ratting Foxy out to the evil drug lords.

Willie Hutch's score is one of the best from this genre (it's been sampled by everyone, most notably on Moby's Play). And you can't beat a film which apes the low-flying airplane scene from North By Northwest – but ends it with dismemberment. And the sight of Pam Grier pulling a handgun from her magnificent 'fro is pretty hard to top.

Ten years ago, I'd have been perhaps overly effusive in arguing that Foxy Brown is right up there with GoodFellas as a real important piece of art, though nowadays, it seems that the blaxploitation genre has been sufficiently well-established critically, and we ought to admit that the constraints these films were made under prevent most of them from really comparing with big-studio/Great-Director films.

Which is not to say Foxy Brown doesn't have its charm, nor a genuine level of importance. But actually watching it, or indeed most exploitation films from that period, seems anymore as much an academic exercise as watching early Spielberg or Scorcese. Perhaps at this point, cool-and-insane contrarian thrills are only to be found in, like, current corporate training videos or something.

Review by Mr. Wiggle-It