Saturday, November 2, 2013

Instant Action: Foxy Brown (1974)

Foxy is an adequate description for this lady!

Written By: Jack Hill
Directed By: Jack Hill

This was my first experience watching a Pam Grier film, and boy oh boy, am I glad I finally got around to seeing her in action. To say that the camera loves Miss Grier would be an understatement, the camera is infatuated with Miss Grier. She has that unique combination of sexiness, charm, beauty, charisma, and a willingness to get down and dirty. I'm not going to lie, it doesn't hurt that she's more than willing to take her clothes off time and time again. However, there's more to Miss Grier than a woman with a giant rack who's willing to show off said rack. There's an intimate relationship between Miss Grier and the camera, and this comes through most pointedly in the scenes where she has to put more than just her body on display. Her desire for revenge is easy to believe, as is her ability to be tough and scrape by in life. Magnetism is not something I write about often, but Miss Grier has an odd sort of magnetism where she makes scenes work that shouldn't.

Jack Hill keeps his camera glued to Miss Grier's contours. In that regard Mr. Hill is no moron, he knows exactly what type of film he is making. Foxy Brown is an exploitation, or blaxploitation, film and Mr. Hill plays that up. There's nudity everywhere, fights that break out for no apparent reason, and vicious crimes perpetrated by bad men. I will never be able to claim to be extremely well versed in exploitation cinema. That doesn't mean I don't know quality cinema when I see it, and there's things being done by Mr. Hill, and Miss Grier, in Foxy Brown that can only equal quality cinema. There's nothing wrong with being an exploitation film, and Foxy Brown helps to prove that exploitation cinema can be just as great as any arthouse or Hollywood production.

Foxy Brown isn't the deepest of films, it's message is a simple one of revenge. But there's more to Foxy Brown, and labeling it as just a revenge flick sells the film short. I was very impressed with the way that Mr. Hill gave power to his female characters. Whether they were naked or not they women in Foxy Brown came across as actual women with distinctive motives and desires. It's a small thing really, but the way Mr. Hill allows the women in Foxy Brown to take the forefront really adds to the genuineness of the film.

The action in Foxy Brown is a little rough around the edges, with moments where people are clearly missing their punches or kicks by a wide margin. Something interesting happens during those moments, that being that I found I didn't really care. Punches were missed and kicks flew past their mark, but the energy of the film had won me over to the point where I didn't care about the less than perfectly choreographed action. The score, the presence of Miss Grier, and the direction of Mr. Hill helped to carry the film past any fault lines present in its core.

I come away from Foxy Brown very impressed with the entire production. I know that a lot of cinephiles will easily dismiss a film like Foxy Brown, but I think to do so is to do a disservice to a splendid film and an important part of film history. I look forward to seeing more from Miss Grier, and better exploring the filmography of Mr. Hill. Foxy Brown is a fine flick, an exploitation film that serves up its revenge in a satisfying manner. There's an energy and verve to Foxy Brown that is infectious, I know it made its way into my bloodstream.



Bill Thompson

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