Saturday, November 24, 2012

Willie Dynamite (1974)

Willie Dynamite
Written by Ron Cutler
Directed by Gilbert Moses

Willie Dynamite...Roscoe Orman
Cora...Diana Sands
Passion...Joyce Walker

In 2006, rap artists Three 6 Mafia won an Academy Award for their contribution to the soundtrack for Hustle & Flow.  Let me say that again slowly, so that it can fully sink in: Three 6 Mafia.  Academy Award.  This may have done wonders for their marketability, but probably did very little for their genuine street cred. None of which has anything to do with what we're here to discuss, although they were right about one thing.

It's hard out here for a pimp.

Just ask Willie Dynamite, one of the biggest baddest pimps in the city with a stable full of hoes available in every color of the rainbow.  We got white bitches, black bitches, Asian bitches.  Ho ho ho.

Pimpin' ain't easy.  And truth be told, it doesn't even seem like that much fun.  Sure, you get to dress like a Batman villain and backhand anyone who disrespects you, but you've always got to watch your back.  Poor Willie has to contend with a disapproving family, a sort of rival Pimp Coalition who is trying to drive him out of business, and the constant harassment of the police.  Every time he parks, they tow his purple pimpmobile!  Lucky for him, he's got his pimp limp down flat.  Add into this mix a do-gooder social worker with a heart of gold who has made it his personal mission in life to 'save' Passion, Willie's latest recruit, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what Mr. Dynamite has to deal with on a daily basis.

This is blaxploitation perhaps at its finest, because it's blaxploitation with a message.  But then again, Citizen Kane may be cinema at its finest, but I'm much more likely to sit down for a repeat viewing of Puppet Master or Bloodfeast.  That is to say, he may be a complicated man that no one understands, but Willie Dynamite is no Shaft.  It's Shaft-Lite.  Shaft with a side of After School Special.

That's not to say that this movie can't be enjoyed for it's own, umm...merits(?).  It's terribly dated, as are all blaxploitation films, but that's part of the charm.  The characters are wacky and offbeat, and although it's relatively tame, there are some surprising (if not terribly convincing) acts of violence.  The Willie Dynamite themesong is nothing short of amazing, and there is a good chase scene at a construction site that was like low-rent (low, low rent) Michael Bay.  And there's a Primary Cast Strutting Slowly With Funky Music Playing In The Background scene, as Willie and his stable leave the police station, that rivals that iconic moment from Reservoir Dogs.

Interestingly, after Willie retired from pimpdom, he joined the cast of Sesame Street.  Seriously.

Rated R
102 Minutes
United States

"Listen here, you jive ass dude.  The price of meat has gone up everywhere."

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