Movie Reviews 190 – Coffy (1973)

CoffyShag carpets, red velvet fedoras, chrome bumpered caddys and polyester bell-bottomed jumpsuits propel viewers back to the groovin’ 70’s in Coffy, a low budget Pam Grier blaxploitation vehicle from director Jack Hill. Most viewers will be more familiar with Grier’s title role in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, but that role itself was just a tribute to Grier’s title role in Foxy Brown, another Jack Hill movie.

Grier plays a Nurse named Coffin, nicknamed Coffy (Coffee, get it?) who takes on drug dealers and kingpins with vigilante vengeance when her little 11 year sister is lured to a world of drug addiction. Her pillars of support include a childhood friend Carter (William Elliott) who is a one of the few honest cops left on the force and her lover Howard (Booker Bradshaw) who`s just announce he`s running for congress.

After blowing off the head of a street lord and injecting his flunky with a bad dose of drugs like that given to her own sister, Coffy learns that she has to reach higher into the echelons of the drug distribution system to make a dent. For that she targets street pimp and pusher King George (Robert DoQui) and his own European supply boss Arturo Vitroni (Allan Arbus, doctor Sid Friedman on M.A.S.H). Coffy (sporting one of the worst fake Jamaican accents ever) gains the confidence of King George and gets in a cat fight free for all with a bunch of the pimp’s girls at a party. Vitroni however delights in the fight and the ensuing generous display of boobs as a result of the girls tearing off one anothers clothes as they trash. He takes exceptional note of the buxom Coffy and invites her to his hotel that night, but before she can waste him she’s subdued by Vitroni’s head henchman (Jack Hill regular Sid Haig from Spiderbaby and The Devil’s Rejects). But Coffy eventually escapes only to be surprised to learn who some of the other members of Vitroni’s team are before one final rampage and heading off into the sunset.

The plot is nothing to write home about but there is plenty of action. To be honest, Grier’s acting is quite dreadful (nothing like her refined and acclaimed performance in Foxy Brown much later in her career) and her looks probably influenced her getting the role. But the best aspect of this movie is how it captures that 70’s instant in time where ‘black was were it was at’. You know that you could never get away today with a scene where a city councilman has a meeting with the chief of police at a tittie bar and not only does no one notice, but when Coffy joins the duo they all joke about drugs.

If a retro jive talkin’ blaxploitation movie is what you’re looking for, this is it.

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