Richard D. Zanuck, David Brown for Zanuck/Brown Productions, Generation 70 (associate), Universal
directed by Gilbert Moses
starring Roscoe Orman, Diana Sands, Thalmus Rasulala, Joyce Walker, Roger Robinson, George Murdock, Albert Hall, Norma Donaldson, Juanita Brown, Royce Wallace, Judith Brown, Marilyn Coleman, Mary Charlotte Wilcox, Marcia McBroom, Jack Bernardi, Ted Gehring, Ron Henriquez, Wynn Irwin, Nathaniel Taylor, Ken Lynch, Davis Roberts
story by Ron Cutler, Joe Keyes jr, screenplay by Ron Cutler, music by J.J. Johnson, songs written by Gilbert Moses, sung by Martha Reeves
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Willie Dynamite (Roscoe Orman) figures himself the top pimp of NYC,
which is when fellow pimp Bell (Roger Robinson) suggests a collaboration
with all the other better pimps and to divide the territory among
themselves, he's the only one who refuses - and soon comes to regret it,
as Bell and company have the pockets of the law lined with gold, and thus
Willie's top girl Passion (Joyce Walker) is taken into custody, and Willie
himself is arrested on trumped up charges. Sure, Willie has his ways to
deal with this, and he and Passion are out again soon, but it is quite a
bit of a bother nevertheless. So Willie starts going after those he thinks
have wronged him ...
Passion meanwhile has attracted the interest of Cora (Diana Sands),
girlfriend of the district attorney (Thalus Rasulala) but once a
prostitute and drug addict herself who has now taken it upon herself to
save girls from what has been her sorry fate before she went clean. This
of course sends her on a confrontational course with Willie, but she has
dealt with tougher guys in her past - not that that makes things any less
worrying. And this constellation as such is sure to tear down the lives of
everybody caught in the story and lead to violence, death and only in some
cases redemption ...
While Willie Dynamite might have never made it to the
top of blaxploitation fare and has remained a bit of a hidden gem to this
day, it really seems like the epitomy of the genre as such - what with its
outrageous 1970s fashion choices and its reliance on (very moderate,
especially given the film's topic) sleaze and violence on one hand, and
socio-political messages (that go beyond "sticking it to the
man") on the other, all packed into gritty yet oddly stylish,
definitely 70s but oddly fresh imagery - which really make this a perfect
trip down memory lane, and a great piece of nostalgia, even if you haven't
lived through this particular stretch of time.