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All Critics (2)
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This is one of those films that's difficult to rate because it's a patchwork of impressive work and spectacular failures.
This is not only a film about conflicts and contradictions in black identity, but also a sly critique of capital's ruthless upward trajectory.
As this movie began, I was expecting a generic and campy b-movie, but what it ended up being is really quite surprising. This is actually a fairly serious and sincere movie with a message.
It has a good budget and pretty high production values, which helps it rise above the level of most blaxploitation films. In a way, it really isn't one of those kinds of movies. I mean it is, but that's like if calling Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" your average swords-and-sandals movie. Okay, so it's not as good as that, but it looks great and had major studio backing, so you probably get the idea. It's essentially a high class B-movie. Yeah, that's a good way to describe it.
Give this one a chance. What could have been a cheesy story about a pimp with problems that you can't take seriously turns into an almost great story of hope and redemption.
"Willie Dynamite" is miles above the average "Blaxploitation" films made in the 1970's by it's not glorifying the title character in any way but showing him as a ruthless as well as tragic and misguided person. A person who's self-destructive lifestyle as a big time city pimp lead to disaster not only to himself but to all those around him: his women his friends his hangers-on and worst of all his sweet and church-going mother played by Royce Wallace.
Back in those days, the 70's, Willie Dynamite, Roscoe Orman, could easily have been made to be a hero for the youth of the inner city ghettos to be looked up to and emulated. Instead the movie wisely chose to show him and his lifestyle for what it was, indifferent and unfeeling. Thats how Willie was to those women who worked the streets and hotels for him selling their hot bodies for the only thing that mattered to him the bottom line: Cold Cash.
The film chronicles the rise and fall and in the end redemption of big city pimp Willie Dynamite after he saw his mother collapse in the courthouse, when she found out what Willie really did for a living, and later die in the hospital without Willie being able to tells her that he's sorry for what he did and get her forgiveness. Willie let his mom on to believe that he was a record agent not a pimp.
Willie's top hooker Pashen, Joyce Walker, who wanted to get out of the hooker business and become a fashion model after she was shown the light by Cora, Diana Sands, a social worker who tried to save girls like her from being exploited by pimps like Willie. Pashen instead gets sweet-talked back into turning tricks by Willie's and ends up having her pretty face slashed while she was in the womens house of detention waiting to be bailed out by him.
Diana Sands steals the movie with her sensitive portrayal of a social worker who knows all too well what life on the streets can do from her sad and abysmal life as a young women and tries to get the girls working for Willie to save themselves from that life like she did. We also see Diana change her opinion about Willie when he's destroyed by his fellow pimps as well as the law and becomes a broken and humbled person instead of the brash and arrogant pimp that she fought with throughout most of the movie. It's Cora's tender and emotional scene with Willie at the end of the film made you want to reach for your handkerchief.
Finally Willie himself who went from a cold-hearted and unfeeling person who looked at both his hookers and the Johns who paid for their services only as dollar signs to where he became a sensitive and understanding person by the time the movie ended but it took a walk through hell for Willie to get to that point. The movie also has fine location filming in and around NYC with a great musical soundtrack.
It would be unfair for "Willie Dynamite" to be described as a "Blaxploitation" movie; It doesn't exploits it's audience it educates it.
Filmed in 1974, it shows the style of everything from cloths to Furniture, man bring it all back. Most label this movie as blaxploitation, myself I don't like the word exploitation, just doesn't stick right. I like Great Black Films or Filmakers, and this is just that, a great Black film. I mean its not roots, but its just good for 1970-1979 Time Frame. This is a cool pimp movie, Thats right Willie is a Pimp, and who Willie is in real life will blow most of you away, (See otheres reviews). Someone is out to destroy Willie, he is getting it from all angles, The Cops, The Black Mob, The Reformed hooker. Will has cool cloths and a Cool Car. All in all its a great movie, not sure these hookers were even hot in 1970 let alone now. But for a 42nd Street Type Movie, have to give it 4 stars. In the end we see Willie Turning over a new leaf and looking for a new life, so its off to find BIG BIRD? Holly Mackeral Who would have ever though.
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