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Friday Foster (1975)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Genres:
Blaxploitation, Detective Film, Mystery, Thriller
Director:
Arthur Marks Arthur Marks
Starring:
Pam Grier Pam Grier
Yaphet Kotto Yaphet Kotto
Godfrey Cambridge Godfrey Cambridge
Thalmus Rasulala Thalmus Rasulala
Eartha Kitt Eartha Kitt

6.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: February 22, 2011
I'm a huge fan of Pam Grier, as many of you fine readers may have noticed over the years. I am of the belief that she can single-handedly carry a film, as regardless of how awful the plot may be or how wretched the supporting cast turns out to be, a movie can be made entertaining with her presence alone. Give the woman a gun, let her shoot a handful of bad guys, give her some witty one-liners, and let her show off her boobs a couple of times and you have an entertaining movie: that's all there is to it. I was of that belief up until I sat through Friday Foster, a film that changed my mind in a scant sixty minutes.

The storyline is based on the Chicago Tribune comic strip of the same name, and it focuses on Friday Foster (Grier), a photographer for Glance magazine who has been assigned to take pictures of the arrival in town of the world's richest black man, one Blake Tarr (Thalmus Rasulala). She gets into position, he gets off the plane, she starts snapping photos, and a trio of assassins attempt to shoot Blake dead. They fail, but this leads to a lengthy shoot-out that action fans will dig. Two of the assassins are killed, but one of them - Yarbro (Carl Weathers) - manages to escape... but not before noticing Friday taking pictures of the entire affair.

Naturally, Yarbro sets out to kill off this witness, and Friday enlists the help of her wise-cracking private investigator buddy Colt Hawkins (Yaphet Kotto) to cover her voluptuous ass. One thing leads to another, and Friday discovers that this assassination attempt was merely a small part of a larger plan crafted by a person or group known as The Black Widow. Friday and Colt travel to Washington, D.C. to get to the bottom of things once and for all, but can they do it alone? Watch for appearances by Eartha Kitt and Jim Backus - yes, Mr. Howell of Gilligan's Island fame shows up in a cameo appearance.

Friday Foster is not so much an action flick as it is a detective / mystery film, so even though there are a handful of action sequences, this is a movie that relies on the script more than the explosions, chases, and shoot-outs. I'm fine with that: it allows Grier to mostly stick with what she knows, but at the same time, it also allows her to branch out into something a little fresher. The problem is that the script for this one was nonsensical at best and downright boring at worst, and try as she may, Grier just couldn't make it work for ninety minutes.

See, it's a detective film without the detective-work, and it's a mystery without the puzzle-solving. Grier attempts to connect the dots between "assassination attempt" and "Black Widow", but her character only manages to do so thanks to an enormous amount of luck. Her boss just so happens to know a guy... the guy refuses to talk, gets shot, and then spills the beans just before dying... Grier just so happens to spot a guy at a funeral... the entire chain of events hinges on Grier's luck, not on her detective work. As a matter of fact, the whole "dying person reveals a major clue" gimmick is used not once, not twice, but three times throughout the running time. If that isn't lazy writing, I don't know what is.

Alright, so ignoring the storyline: how was it as an action flick? Unfortunately, it wasn't very good in that regard either. There are a handful of action sequences, true enough, but none of them are anything to brag about. There's a handful of chase sequences and a couple of shoot-outs, and while I can't say anything bad about any of those scenes, they're nothing that you haven't already see a thousand times over. The one neat scene to be found in here involves a guy getting crushed to death in a phone booth, but one five-second clip does not save a movie.

The acting is really the only thing that kept me interested in the movie. Pam Grier carries the film and does a fine job with it, while Yaphet Kotto is great as her comical sidekick. It's a different type of role for him, and in fact, the film features a lot of notable people in bizarre roles: Carl Weathers, known for being the wise-cracking badass, plays a silent assassin here. Ted Lange, known for his happy-go-lucky role on The Love Boat, plays a pimp here and comedian Godfrey Cambridge plays a powerful gay man. Very odd casting choices all around, but the actors did make their respective roles work.

Overall, Friday Foster is a forgettable blaxploitation flick that is for Pam Grier fans only, and even those fans will likely walk away disappointed. 4/10.
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