Breaking: African-American Stars in Blaxploitation Film
I woke up with a start when I heard about the Wikipedia ratings system. If people start rating the articles, I thought, the quality will start to go up. And if the quality goes up, well, it’ll be slim pickings for this column. I’d have to start picking on some other site – and “No Duh Yelp” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
But then it occurred to me that the only people who would take the time to rate an article on Wikipedia are probably also the only people who would take the time to write them. And all my worries vanished, like someone had taken the Revert button to them.
Good thing, too, because I have found the Holy Grail of bad Wikipedia articles. And it’s on a subject very dear to me: the movie “No Way Back,” starring Fred Williamson. The first blaxploitation picture I ever saw.
And so we begin the beguine…
No Way Back is a 1976 Blaxploitation film starring Fred Williamson who also starred in the film as Jesse Crowder, a private detective who once used to belong to a police force but that now finds himself taking odd jobs for a little extra money.
Fred Williamson not only stars in the film, he also stars in it! We’re knee-deep in redundant redundancy in the opening sentence.
Fred Williamson’s character plays by his own rules and will do anything he can within his power to complete his mission, all that he needs to ensure that he does this is some cold hard cash. Besides a thirst for money Crowder also has a thirst for women. He is a ladies’ man as some would say, and is also a stereotypically strong African American man. Crowder is a strong black man, and makes sure that everyone around him knows this.
When I first saw “No Way Back” it was part of a “Fred Williamson Triple Play” which also featured “Mean Johnny Barrows” and, well, I forget the third movie. But this is a triple play too, only it’s a triple play of crappy writing.
Williamson’s character only needs “cold hard cash.” But the very next line says he also needs women. In addition to needing women, he is a ladies’ man. So neither ladies nor women can resist! (And don’t give me any jive about how some women aren’t ladies; I’m not Dear Abby, they’re all ladies to me. Except Phyllis Diller, who transcends gender and just about everything else.) And this “strong African-American man” is also a “strong black man.”
Tired yet? We’re just getting started. Let’s, as Fred would say, press on:
His slick lines and tough guy attitude sweeps the ladies right off their feet so that at the end of all of these sexual encounters the women are often seen begging for more sex. This stereotype was a common Blaxploitation characteristic to use in African American films.
I’d like to see a common Blaxploitation characteristic in, say, a Bollywood film. Blax-ollywood-sploitation? It could work.
Sorry for the delay in the write-up – I just got a panicked phone call from Quentin Tarantino, who offered to direct my Blax-ollywood-sploitation film. “Mumbai Dynamite” with Jim Brown, Akshay Kumar, Pam Grier and John Saxon, coming next fall.
Wait, where was I?
This film is part of a larger genre known as Blaxploitation which emerged in the early 1970s in the time when many black exploitation films were being made specifically to target black audiences. No Way Back emerged as one of these Blaxploitation films in 1976
This is a novel theory: blaxploitation movies came after black exploitation movies. And they targeted black audiences too? Next you’re gonna tell me that African-Americans starred in these movies!
I know I said I wasn’t worried about the ratings system improving the quality of articles like this. But just in case…