Thanks to Quentin Tarantino and his career resurrecting ways, Pam Grier has become a well-known name once again. But if you only know Ms. Grier from “Jackie Brown,” then you don’t know Ms. Grier. She was the queen of 70’s blaxploitation cinema! Today we look at a film in which she starred as a character who first appeared in newspaper comic strips…1975’s “Friday Foster.”
Grier plays the title character, a model turned magazine photographer. On New Year’s Eve, she is called by her editor (Julius Harris…Tee Hee from “Live and Let Die”) to photograph the arrival of Blake Tarr (Thalmus Rasulala), the world’s richest black man, at the airport. During the course of taking pictures, she witnesses an assassination attempt on Tarr.
A few days later, Friday visits a fashion show for designer Madame Rena (Eartha Kitt) to see her friend Cloris (Rosalind Miles) who is one of the models. While there, she also runs into a private investigator friend, Colt Hawkins (Yaphet Kotto). During the show, Cloris is stabbed to death. Before she dies, she warns Friday about something called “Black Widow.”
With Friday having been around both of these murders, she soon finds herself a target herself. A large mysterious man called Yarbro (Carl Weathers) has been seen connected with these crimes, but now he comes to pay Friday a visit. He rudely interrupts Ms. Grier’s obligatory shower scene, brandishing a switch blade. She narrowly gets away, covering herself only with a towel as she runs down the hall. After this, she and Hawkins decide to team up to find this killer.
The trail ends up leading Friday and Hawkins to Washington DC. There, Friday becomes intimate with a senator (Paul Benjamin) as she tries to learn more about “Black Widow.” She soon learns that it is a plot to eliminate some of the most influential African-Americans who have gathered for a meeting. Little do they know, that some unexpected villains are behind the plot.
Pam Grier’s early 70’s films definitely aren’t high art, but they are often a lot of fun! Though Grier’s performance alone makes this well worth a look, I gotta admit, it’s not really her strongest film. The film does drag at times and really doesn’t kick into high gear until its climax. That huge shootout that closes the film is well worth the price of admission by itself, however. The payoff at the end of the film is great, it just requires some patience to get there.
Of course, the film goes a long way on the strength of its leading lady. There’s just no denying the appeal of Pam Grier! She’s tough, sexy, and at times funny. Add to that the coolness of Yaphet Kotto and you’ve got quite a combination. As if that wasn’t enough, we also get Paul Benjamin, Scatman Crothers, Julius Harris, Godfrey Cambridge, and many more. Stealing the show, however, is pre-Apollo Creed Carl Weathers. He makes for an extremely menacing bad guy, skilled in executions with everything from a switch blade to a delivery truck.
Though “Friday Foster” has it’s share of problems, I can’t say that it disappointed me. Pam Grier films are rarely not enjoyable at least on some level. There’s a reason she was among the most popular stars of the blaxploitation genre. In this case, her great on-screen charisma helps make a so-so story a lot more interesting than it probably deserves to be.