Willie Dynamite (1974)
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as Willie's Mother
as Willie's Lawyer
Critic Reviews for Willie Dynamite
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Audience Reviews for Willie Dynamite
"Willie Dynamite" is the story of a pimp and his girls, a blaxploitation film that isn't too campy and doesn't glorify the criminal lifestyle that Willie leads. He is a prick, who treats his prostitutes good only when it suits him, when they step out of line or do anything independent he becomes a shit, just like a real pimp. He is a bastard who portrays himself as working for and with the girls, but is really just out for himself. So the fact that they didn't stray too far into camp territory helped this one. It isn't the best film, not even the best blaxploitation film I've seen, but it is decent.
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.
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