Friday, March 10, 2006

On a second viewing of "Cleopatra Jones"

The Brattle was kind enough to revive this blaxploitation classique last night, I only wish it held up better under the weight of the years.
Oh the plot is beguiling enough, sassy sista Cleopatra Jones a part time G-woman runs the local pushers right out of the neighborhood with as much bluster and mayhem as humanly possible.
Alas, star Tamara Dobson is decorous and beautiful but a slack actor and to be charitable a tidy sum of studio cash is expended to minimize her lack of martial arts expertise.
Shelley Winters on the other hand as the film's villain "Mommy" apparently decided that this was a chance to do another "Batman" camp-out complete with obscenities, racial epithets and lesbian innuendo.
Which just goes to show you that strict Stanislavsky method actors can chew the scenery with the best of them.
Meanwhile, Poor dependable Bernie Casey took one look at the scripts cartoonish excesses and elects to play it all straight. He cracks not one smile nor courts cheap acclaim...given the fact that he must chart a dangerous course between the Scylla of Dobson's beauty and the Charybdis of Winters' histrionics his restraint must be applauded.
Somewhere out in the wilds of tinseltown a great black sista shoot em' up is still waiting to be made.
Meanwhile, the rest of us, wait.

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