1970's, Arthur Marks, Blaxploitation, Carl Weathers, Crime, Eartha Kitt, Friday Foster, Godfrey Cambridge, Julius Harris, Pam Grier, Scatman Crothers, Ted Lange, Thalmus Rasulala, Thriller, Yaphet Kotto
- Pam Grier as Friday Foster
- Yaphet Kotto as Colt Hawkins
- Carl Weathers as Yarbro
- Thalmus Rasulala as Blake Tarr
- Eartha Kitt as Madame Rena
- Ted Lange as Fancy Dexter
- Godfrey Cambridge as Ford Malotte
- Scatman Crothers as Noble Franklin
- Julius Harris as Monk Riley
It lacks the raw power of some Blaxploitation movies, but Friday Foster attempts to offer more of a polished product. And for the most part, it is very fun and exciting. The plot gets a bit convoluted, but the energy, colourful characters and style of the piece(which takes its basis from a comic strip) entertain.
Friday Foster is a dedicated former fashion model turned photographer for a magazine. Though immensely good at her job, she commonly gets herself in way too deep on assignment, yet always thankfully has a way out. Her latest job is to photograph the nation’s wealthiest black man Blake Tarr, who is notoriously reclusive but is making his way to Los Angeles. Seizing the opportunity, Friday goes to the airport and through her charms manages to sneak into the back. What she gets is a lot more than she bargained for. She witnesses an assassination attempt on Tarr and manages to photograph it. Having been present, she is now in real danger, especially after a friend of hers is murdered and a mysterious man begins stalking her. The last words of her friend ‘Black Widow’ set Friday’s mind racing with questions of what it could possibly mean. She teams up with private eye Colt Hawkins, who can’t resist the chance to uncover a rat in a maze. Lead to Washington, D.C., the two unravel a most complex conspiracy of the highest proportions that reaches up to high levels of political power and could spell something sinister.
Arthur Marks thrusts us right into the adventure from the get-go, incorporating quick camera edits and action to suck us right into the crime thriller. Exciting sequences can be found in abundance here, in particular the assassination attempt, a jumping rooftop chase and Friday being pursued by a hit man in an abandoned warehouse. The plot is winding and twisting to the extreme, with some of it coming off better than other parts. I am all for a plot of unexpected surprise and intrigue as much as the next guy, and it must be stated that this film sets up an exciting feeling of mystery that Friday finds herself embroiled in. It is in the latter stages that the twists get way too confusing and sometimes bewilder and boggle the mind. Still, any mystery is better than one at all. A bit more cohesion is what the plot needed. The budget on this film seems higher than on others in the Blaxploitation genre, ensuring a more glossy and cleaner film. I would have liked a bit more grit to it, but I can still appreciate colourful style and set design which are both things to praise in Friday Foster. You can tell that this is a film based on a comic strip from the fantastical quality it has, and to be honest, it does provide escapist fare pretty well. Yet it also taps into themes of race and community which surprised me, that added something different to the film in between the action and thrills. I like films to have some underlying context and the sub-plots and issues Friday Foster deals with stand up well even today. A slinky score puts the groove in groovy so much that I had the temptation to jump up and shake my hips to it.
As confusing as the film gets in the later half of it, the winning cast keeps you really invested in the action. Pam Grier is softer here, yet can still handle herself in a dangerous situation. She comes across as smart and flirty, with a real nose for getting into potentially fatal situations. Grier makes Friday a largely unflappable heroine whose killer smile and unwavering loyalty to the job once she unearths the conspiracy are good traits to have. Once more, the sassy energy of Pam Grier is on full display as the crusading central character which gives her a chance to play some vulnerable but still strong notes. And I have to point out that Pam Grier has never looked more lovely than how she does here. Yaphet Kotto exudes a real sense of physical as well as intelligent prowess when playing the smiling private detective, who can solve a situation with both his fists and his mind. The imposing presence of Carl Weathers colours the largely silent character of Yarbro, a hit man who is constantly after Friday with menacing intent. There is Thalmus Rasulala in the part of the billionaire whose attempted assassinations pulls everyone into a scheme. Rasulala has a real charisma and style to him that is nicely observed in his acting. A scene-stealing Eartha Kitt is theatrical and bitchy as a fashion designer friend of Friday’s with a flair for the exotic and eccentric. Ted Lange brings humour to proceedings playing a pimp who is kept at arm’s length by Friday, despite his rich and flamboyant gifts. Godfrey Cambridge, Scatman Crothers and Julius Harris each give their supporting characters something to do and make their brief appearances count.
So while it isn’t a big shining example of the Blaxploitation genre, Friday Foster undoubtedly has its pluses to promise an action-filled movie.