Comfortable and Furious

Blaxploitation #9: Foxy Brown (1974)

What the hell are these crazy cats up to? Off the top of my head, prostitution, drug dealing, plastic surgery, shoving a baby in a pram into the middle of a busy road, watching porn, threatening fratricide, fighting in the street, slapping an unsatisfied, erect penis, getting punched in the balls and cutting off a cock. It’s up to the grief-stricken Foxy (Grier), who’s just had her straight arrow boyfriend murdered in a drive-by, to calm this hysterical lot down by killing everyone.

Is there a racist cop keeping the brothers down? Nope, it’s the usual bunch of white gangsters treading on their windpipes, although whenever white coppers pops up, they’re happy to spit out racial slurs like ‘spook’ and do their best to intimidate.

How are the bitches and hos treated? Some see the work of director Hill as having a feminist slant given the number of 70s flicks, he helmed that feature a gutsy, resourceful, hard as nails heroine. I’m not sure I will buy that, especially when the first thing Foxy does here is whip off her flimsy nightie to treat us to a gratuitous shot of her coffee-colored melons. Not long afterward she’s lost her man and been repeatedly attacked. Then she’s tied to a bed, forcibly injected with smack and raped. All right, she’s a ballsy chick who can handle a bullwhip around the throat, but is this what the average woman aspires to?

Most of the downtrodden females in Foxy are hookers and girlfriends only there to provide eye candy and get fucked up. Like Coffy, it also lays bare the lack of sisterhood between the races as illustrated by its highly amusing catfight in a blue-collar white lesbian bar. Did such places exist in 1974? Well, who cares, because this is a case of Whoo-hoo! I am in hog heaven as the ladies proceed to boast about their karate skills, break barstools and slam heads into a jukebox.

Do I dig the threads? This is Foxy’s show all the way as demonstrated by the vaguely Bond-like opening titles in which Foxy dances in silhouette and busts out some pseudo-kung fu moves. However, sometimes the camera understandably loses interest in her array of fancy outfits and hairdos to concentrate on her awesome chest. Elsewhere it’s the usual collection of foot-long collars, garish open-waist shirts, medallions and afros.

Does it have funky music? Not particularly. We get the odd ballad, some snatches of song (Please don’t make Foxy mad/Or you’ll find out that the lady is super bad), and an occasional lively score. 

Best jive talk:

“I’m a black man and I don’t know how to sing and I don’t know how to dance and I don’t know how to preach to no congregation. I’m too small to be a football hero and I’m too ugly to be elected mayor. When I watch TV and I see all them people in all them fine homes they live in and all those nice cars they drive I get all full of ambition. Now you tell me what I’m s’posed to do with all this ambition I got?” Foxy’s flailing brother, Link (Fargos), tries to defend his pronounced ducking and diving. Like 98 per cent of the other men on display, he’s a shitkicker, although at least in a role-reversal way. The guy is always in need of rescue, coming across as if he’s Foxy’s hapless younger sister.

“It’s as American as apple pie.” Foxy’s straightforward response when a friend questions the validity of vigilante justice.

“You tell me who you want done and I’ll do the hell out of him… if the price is right.” Foxy indicates she’s willing to give her new career in prostitution a whirl.

“The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” After a john comments unfavorably on her skin color, Foxy corrects his misconception.

Are any hard drugs injected into eyeballs? Curiously, Foxy (just like Coffy) shies away from showing needles spiking veins. Apparently, that’s too confronting for a 70s audience, although it’s fine to depict a ‘big-jugged jigaboo’ having her bra ripped off and sniffed by her imminent rapist.

Are there any pimps roaming the hood? Yeah, and she’s called Miss Kathryn (Loder). Somehow (and despite the criminal world being the premier example of the maxim of the law of the jungle) she’s in charge, even though she does little more than smoke cigarillos, wear chunky gold necklaces and make poor decisions. It’s never explained how she became the boss, but her three incompetent henchmen certainly don’t mess with her ice-cold authority. She might deliver the odd slap during a torture session, but she mainly deals in dope and ‘runs a stable of the finest call girls in the country’. Hookers also obey her without question, otherwise they get sent to ‘a house in Haiti where the men go there for… what they can’t get anywhere else.’ Miss Kathryn is in love/lust with her right-hand man, a situation that sees her coolly talk about business one moment and demand a snog the next. She also becomes instantly jealous and catty whenever her tin-pot weasel of a lover makes eyes at whichever hooker is in the room. This is unfortunate, partly because Miss Kathryn is nowhere near as hot as the busty babes she employs.

Is Coffy any good? Michael Winner knew something about sequels, declaring the formula for success to be the ‘same again, but different.’ Well, Grier might not be playing Coffy but this is definitely that flick’s unofficial sequel. Its structure is remarkably similar and repeats a plethora of elements, such as the sole good guy departing early on, the drug-dealing white gangsters, the hooker impersonation, the catfight and quest for vengeance, along with the weak writing and pedestrian acting. Its best scene arrives when Foxy and another (wooden) black hooker has to entertain a high-class party of judges and rich well-to-dos at a hotel. They walk in to find a topless babe each perched on the lap of a load of balding, middle-aged white guys, who then proceed to make a series of lame cracks in a bid to underline their sexually liberated ways (“That’s an awful lot of chocolate for one man!”)

The subsequent bedroom scene in which an elderly judge is humiliated at length by the scantily dressed pair is a terrific piece of forced comedy. “Baby,” Foxy says, pointing at the poor guy’s dick, “I’ve heard of a meat shortage, but that’s ridiculous.” A moment later they’ve shut him half-naked out in the hallway with Foxy’s final retort ringing in his ears: “You pink-ass corrupt honky judge! Take your little wet noodle out of here and if you see a man anywhere, send him in because I do need a man!”

Grier remains a limited actress, but she has the looks, the body, a brave willingness to plunge headlong into in-your-face material, and that strange thing called charisma. Foxy Brown might go over the same misanthropic, syringe-littered ground as Coffy, but it’s still another fun slice of foul-mouthed, unintentionally funny exploitation. Right on, brother!

Do I now have a Tarantinoesque urge to be black? No one has a good time in this uncompromising flick so I’ll have to pass again.



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