Thursday, February 11, 2010
COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (1970) -
Who knew "Da Mayor" from Do the Right Thing could direct?
Cotton is the most spirited blaxploitation flick I've seen so far, more satire-driven than most other revenge-obsessed offerings. Boasting some dyno-mite Harlem location photography, great Chester Himes source material and a very game Ossie Davis in the director's seat, it coolly weaves its political agenda inside a breezy 70's action-comedy plot.
Black detectives Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones (a coolly efficient Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques) direct most of their anger and suspicion not at The Man but at Reverend Deke O'Malley, a neighborhood preacher hosting Back to Africa BBQs in which he cons poor folk out of their hard-earned with hollow sermons. Don't worry, the Man gets his due too, mostly in the ineptitude of Digger and Ed's white higher ups. Add to that a missing bale of cotton stuffed with $87,000 and Redd Foxx in hobo drag, and you've got a nifty little uptown who-dunnit with soul to burn.