Sunday, June 14, 2009

TRICK BABY (1973) - Larry Yust

Back in my college years, I read a couple thin though entertaining volumes by pimp-turned-author Iceberg Slim (aka Robert Beck), the man so often cited in the early OG lyrics of Ice-T and/or Ice Cube. Therefore Trick Baby, the only movie I knew of based on one of those Slim volumes, was on the edges of my film geek radar from early on. It took a while to find a decent copy of this little-known film, but thanks to the good folks at Netflix I caught one that was streaming till the end of this month.

Make no bones about it, Trick Baby is a blaxploitation movie. But it has a little bit more going on than your average Afros, bell bottoms and black power revenge scheme scenario. Two Philly con men--a white one named White Folks and black one named Blue--team up in a series of race-based swindles that turn their marks' greed and prejudice against them. But when a black neighborhood cop on-the-take gets wind of their growing income, White Folks and Blue start looking to clear out of town...after they've cleared $100,000 in a pending real estate scam (a nifty one at that).

The tight working relationship White Folks and Blue have as con men comrades is a novel one. It's genuine from the start -- a rarity in con movies and blaxploitation pics. Neither is looking to fuck over the other, just screw everyone else out of their money. When Blue defends his friendship with White Folks to his girlfriend, he explains it's because White Folks' mother was black. One look at his lily white "trick baby" partner, and she doesn't buy it. Neither do we-- the actor cast as White Folks, Keil Martin, is EXTREMELY white. Brothers in trade though maybe not in shade, the only color these two pros see is green.

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