Friday Foster [1975]

Pam Grier is Friday Foster, a photographer's assistant at a glamour magazine assigned to cover the secret arrival of a reclusive black millionaire (Thalmus Rasula). "Just get your cute little behind out there and take your little pictures and goddammit don't get involved!" Of course she does: The scene erupts into an attempted assassination, and Friday digs up a conspiracy that reaches to Washington, D.C., and involves sassy, flamboyant fashion designer Eartha Kitt, lascivious but good-at-heart minister Scatman Crothers, and a powerful black congressman. Yaphet Kotto costars as a good-natured P.I. she tags along as a sidekick and bodyguard, and Carl Weathers makes a strong impression as a silent but deadly hit man systematically silencing potential witnesses. The script feels more like a comic book than a movie (it was inspired by a newspaper comic strip), with Grier playing Friday as a plucky, resourceful amateur, stealing cars and stalking killers armed with nothing but a fully loaded camera. She's better as the street-smart pistol-packin' mamas of Coffy and Foxy Brown, but still commands the screen every minute she's on. Arthur Marks fills the film with shootouts and (rather bland) car chases, but the highlights are an assassination by garbage truck and a free-for-all firefight at a religious retreat. Jim Backus costars as a wheelchair-ridden racist millionaire, Godfrey Cambridge plays a flamingly gay conspirator, and Ted Lange is a flashy, fast-talking pimp in two comic scenes. --Sean Axmaker

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