Sunday, February 28, 2010

WILLIE DYNAMITE (1974) - Gilbert Moses
THE MACK (1973) - Michael Campus

It's the final stretch of Blaxploitation History Month...time to bring out the pimps!

Though the player protags in Willie Dynamite and The Mack might share the same vocation, their career trajectories couldn't be more different. Willie Dynamite starts on a familiar note, with mack daddy Willie D. (Roscoe Orman of Sesame Street fame) walking his sexy "stable" into a Shriner's convention and making bank off some white dudes with more audacious headgear than his own. After that, we're privy to a player's ball/pimp summit during which Willie chafes at the socialist tendencies of his fellow flesh-peddlers who are looking to unionize and split territories. Businessman to the core, Willie bows out on the capitalist tip -- it's safe to assume he doesn't provide his lovely ladies much in the way of 401K or healthcare. Now Willie's just gone and gotten himself into the middle of an all-out pimp war. But the movie turns out to have a different agenda. And so does sexy social worker Diana Sands. They both want to reform Willie D.

This is both good and bad news for Willie Dynamite. It saves the movie from the obvious Scarface rise-and-fall gangster trajectory, but it also makes for a slog in the later parts. This is not to say that social worker Sands is cinematic dead weight. In fact, she's the best thing about the movie -- a been-there done-that ex-streetwalker turned self-described "Ralph Nader of Prostitutes." It's Willie and his single-minded resolve to resist his fate that becomes the chore. If this dude could have turned out the Cookie Monster for 20 bucks, you better believe he would have.

"You're going to make a wad of cash so big your pockets are gonna look like they got the mumps."

So says one character in The Mack. And, yep, that's pretty much what ex-con turned master pimp Goldie (Max Julien) does with a little help from Richard Pryor, his stable of fine "earners" and no help whatsoever two of the most racist cops this side of the Rodney King verdict (see Don Gordon above).

The Mack is as much fun and obviously influential to the rap game/blaxploitation genre as I'd anticipated. I'd heard of "player's balls" in the pimp world, but never a "player's picnic."

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