The purpose of this site is simply to share my views and commentaries on films I watch. It was never intended as place where I do tributes. However, I recognize I will be compelled – now and again – to post a shout out to those whose work or portrayals had an impact on me. Today it’s one of those. I didn’t see him on a big screen but since my brother was a huge fan of his work and the memorable character he played, I watched him countless times on television…
Celebrating his 70th birthday today is the ultra-cool Richard Roundtree, a leading man in many “blaxploitation” movies in the 1970s. He is best known for his role as John Shaft in Shaft, and starred in its two sequels as well. As the 1970s and 1980s progressed he starred more in low-budget movies, none of which had the impact of Shaft.
Roundtree has been in more recent releases. He became popular again in the 1990s with his role in Se7en (1995), and was well received for reprising his role as the classic hero, and Samuel L. Jackson‘s uncle, in the 2000 remake of the film that made him a star, Shaft (2000). But as is the case with most remakes, there’s nothing like the original!
“Number one, it put me on the map . . . To this day that film still works . . . I was blessed.”
TAGLINE: The mob wanted Harlem back. They got shaft…up to here.
How great is that?!
Shaft is a 1971 American blaxploitation film directed by Gordon Parks, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. An action film with elements of film noir, Shaft tells the story of a black private detective, John Shaft, who travels through Harlem and to the Italian mob neighborhoods in order to find the missing daughter of a black mobster. It stars Richard Roundtree as Shaft, Moses Gunn as Bumpy Jonas, Drew Bundini Brown as Willy, Charles Cioffi as Lt. Vic Androzzi, Christopher St. John as Ben Buford, and Gwenn Mitchell and Lawrence Pressman in smaller roles. The movie was adapted by Ernest Tidyman and John D. F. Black from Tidyman’s 1971 novel of the same name. (IMDB)
The Shaft soundtrack album, recorded by Isaac Hayes, was also a success, winning a Grammy Award for Best Original Score; the “Theme from Shaft” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and has appeared on multiple Top 100 lists, including AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs. Such a great song!
In 2000, Shaft, widely considered a prime example of the blaxploitation genre, was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” A great choice, by my estimation, for a memorable, iconic character played by the suave, Mr. Roundtree.
Happy birthday, Richard Roundtree! CAN YOU DIG IT!
A strong recommendation – for much more sophisticated write-ups and discussions the great blaxpoitation films, please visit The Classic Film and TV Cafe. It’s a great site dedicated to classic films and television from all eras and genres. They have a fabulous array of talented, passionate writers.