Friday, February 26, 2010
TROUBLE MAN (1972) - Ivan Dixon
Sexy Pool Girl: When am I going to see you again, baby?
Mr. T: I'm going to have to think about that, girl.
So begins Trouble Man, soon followed by an opening credit montage of stylish Mr. T (Robert Hooks) driving through L.A. to the Marvin Gaye song of the same name. This is blaxploitation done with flair and, believe it or not, a very competent script. It's also a crackerjack detective story.
I won't go too deeply into the plot but to say that Hooks is a well-respected neighborhood P.I. who gets set-up and then caught-up in a local gang war. But he still has time to love the ladies and put the fear of god into a local fat-cat slumlord, making him pay for the hospital bills of a three year-old tenant who fell down one of his dilapidated stairwells. He also drops lines like these: "You sending me out into the jungle wearing nothin' but a porkchop jacket." Sho'nuff.
I first came upon Trouble Man by way of a few raving Netflix user reviews. One in particular caught my eye: "Like a Walter Moseley novel directed by Sam Peckinpah." That may be half-right. While Robert Hooks' suave investigation skills do call to mind a '70s era Easy Rawlins, Trouble Man's swinging black dick is a little too cool for comparison to Peckinpah's hot-headed raging redneck peckerwoods. Also, the action in Trouble Man, while economical and skillful enough, is not nearly as kinetic as Mr. P's. Still, director Ivan Dixon (The Spook Who Sat By the Door) turns in another winner.