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Blaxploitation » Grindhouse » »
Shaft


1971       Richard Roundtree

Shaft starring Richard Roundtree in the title role, is the hard-hitting story of a tough Black detective fighting organized crime - both Black and White - as he tries to rescue a beautiful girl from kidnappers in the New York jungle of militants, politicians, criminals and cops.

Joel Freeman produced and Gordon Parks directed the screenplay by Ernest Tidyman and John D. F. Black, based on the novel by Ernest Tidy-man. Composer-vocalist Isaac Hayes (Hot Buttered Soul) composed and conducted the music for Shaft

Freeman, who began his film career nearly thirty years ago as a mail-boy at MGM and worked his way steadily to the top, most recently produced "Weekend of Terror" for television. Prior to that he served as executive producer for "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter." His earlier career in various production capacities includes numerous television and feature film credits.

Gordon Parks, who directed the Stirling Silliphant-Roger Lewis Production of Shaft decided early in life that he would work with pictures and words. As the author of

"The Learning Tree," "Choice of Weapons," "The Human Experience," and as a photographer for the government, industry and eventually Life magazine, Parks has fulfilled that ambition. As a photo-journalist, Parks has made a number of documentary films, but

"The Learning Tree" which he wrote, was his first venture into major motion pictures as both producer and director. The result was worldwide recognition as a major new talent in films.

Supporting Richard Roundtree in his film debut as Shaft are Moses Gunn, Gwenn Mitchell, Christopher St. John, Charles Cioffi, Lawrence Pressman and Drew "Bundini" Brown. Shaft was filmed entirely on location in New York City.




John Shaft is a private detective whom director Gordon Parks describes as "dealing with real things, in real life," as opposed to the enchanted, magic gimmick garden life, that James Bond inhabits.

Richard Roundtree : "There is one thing Shaft's got that I hope rubs off on me. That is his ability to say 'no.' The man makes a decision, and lives with it right or wrong. I like his cool, too. No, I don't think the man will ever come to bug me the way James Bond came to bug Connery; but, who knows, if I played him long enough he might. Right now, I feel I can't get enough of him. My contract with MGM calls for four films as Shaft, should this first one really take off."

He laughs, and tells of Gordon Parks having to constantly caution him about falling too completely into the character of the private eye, especially his habit of walking across streets in front of oncoming traffic, confident it will stop. "You're gonna get killed that way, baby," Parks told him.

"I almost got killed doing the scene when we filmed it," Roundtree said. "It was at Broadway and 42nd Street, right in the heart of Times-Squareyule. I didn't have sense enough to be afraid. I just ploughed across the street, while the cameras positioned on a nearby rooftop filmed me. I guess I thought, since this was a movie and cameras turning I'd be protected. Nothing so gross as instant death. Man, I was pretty scared after that scene was shot, I'll tell you; when I stopped to look at that traffic, to see how fast and hell-bent-for-leather it was really going!"

At this point, director Parks called for the rehearsal, then the filming of a scene where a gang messenger comes to the cafe to meet Shaft, to take him to see for himself that the kidnapped daughter of a Harlem rackets boss, whom Shaft has been commissioned to rescue, is still alive. Actor Vic Arnold as the Gang type enters, and goes to Shaft's table. "I'm looking for a nigger named John Shaft." Roundtree replies, "You found him Wop. Sit down, have some coffee, if you ask them real nice maybe they'll put some garlic in it for you." "Why not?" says Arnold, "That'Il give you time to eat your watermelon and greens."

After three takes, Roundtree was again excused. He was laughing over the scene. "The picture's full of funky stuff like that. I love it. I love playing the guy. I played the Jack Johnson role in 'The Great White Hope' in Philadelphia just before landing this part, and what a role that was! That was my turning point. But, it was downbeat, the man was a loser. For a nice change of pace, Shaft is a winner."

At that point, assistant director Ted Zachary called for Richard to come prepare for the rehearsal of another scene. Roundtree obligingly rose to go to the assigned position. "What did I tell you," he winked. "I can't say no" o

Shaft features Moses Gunn as the rackets boss, Gwenn Mitchell as Shaft's girl friend and Charles Cioffi as the police officer who is the thorn in the man's side. Others in the cast include Christopher St. John, Sherri Brewer, Margaret Warncke and Drew (Bundini) Brown.

Produced by Joel Freeman for MGM release, the Stirling Silliphant-Roger Lewis production was adapted to the screen by John D. F. Black from a novel by Ernest Tidyman.






Item Details:
b2 20x28.5 single-sided rolled




Shaft

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CAST

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Presents
A Stirling Silliphant
Roger Lewis Production

Shaft

Screenplay By ............ Ernest Tidyman, John D. F. Black
Based Upon The Novel By .............. Ernest Tidyman
Music By .......................... Isaac Hayes
Produced By .......................... Joel Freeman
Directed By .......................... Gordon Parks

Metrocolor



Cast
John Shaft .......................... Richard Roundtree
Bumpy Jonas .......................... Moses Gunn
Vic Androzzi .......................... Charles Cioffi
Ben Buford .......................... Christopher St. John
Ellie Moore .......................... Gwenn Mitchell
Tom Hannon .......................... Lawrence Pressman
Charlie .......................... Victor Arnold
Marcy .......................... Sherri Brewer
Rollie .......................... Rex Robbins
Dma Greene .......................... Camille Yarbrough
Linda .......................... Margaret Warncke
Byron Leibowitz .......................... Joseph Leon
Cul .......................... Arnold Johnson
Patsy .......................... Dominic Barto
Carmen .......................... George Strus
Lee .......................... Edmund Hashim
Willy .......................... Drew Bundini Brown
Leroy .......................... Tommy Lane
Sims .......................... Al Kirk
Dr. Sam .......................... Shimen Ruskin
Bunky .......................... Antonio Fargas
Old Lady .......................... Gertrude Jeannette
Blind Vendor .......................... Lee Steele
Mal .......................... Damu King
Remmy .......................... Donny Burks
Davies .......................... Tony King
Bey Newfield .......................... Benjamin R. Rixson
Tully .......................... Ricardo Brown
Gus .......................... Alan Weeks
Char .......................... Glenn Johnson
Dotts .......................... Dennis Tate
Brother #1 ............... Adam Wade
Brother #2 ............. James Hainesworth
Sonny .......................... Clee Burtonya
Peerce .......................... Ed Bernard
Tony .......................... Ed Barth
Dom .......................... Joe Pronto
Waitress .......................... Robin Nolan
Billy .......................... Ron Tannas
Mrs. Androzzi .......................... Betty Bresler

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