Darktown Strutters (1975)

PLOT:

A superfly, bad-ass biker gang of funky finger-snappin’ soul sisters is on a righteous quest to find Sirina’s (the lead motorcycle tramp) missing mama, and overthrow the honky-pig political cloning conspiracy while they’re at it. The conspiracy centers around the device called “Annie,” a conscious artificial womb designed to incubate and indoctrinate a cloned human zygote before “giving birth” to a full-grown person (the clone). Annie belongs to a man who (at first) looks and dresses exactly like Colonel Sanders, and he plans to use her to replace prominent black members of the community in order to further his political interests. The Colonel lives on a cotton plantation in the middle of the city, and is also the kingpin of the local “Sky Hog” restaurant chain, which (apparently) explains his sudden costume switch from white suit and string tie to skin-tight pink spandex with a white cape and little piggy ears. In between clashing with the KKK, outwitting the fat, semi-retarded police and throwing impromptu dance parties the funky lady cyclists unravel the Colonel’s evil scheme, and discover a cavernous dungeon beneath his plantation where he’s imprisoned, among other people, soul music vocal group The Dramatics. The ladies gather a posse of pimps, bikers, drug dealers and other various black stereotypes to engage the army of Klansmen and spandex pig people guarding the Colonel’s plantation in an epic, 3 Stooges-style battle. Meanwhile, Annie is ready to give birth to the Colonel’s first clone any minute…

AMBITION:  7

If this entire production wasn’t fueled by cocaine I’ll eat my hat. It’s blacksploitation meets Dr. Suess, which is an even stranger combination that it sounds.

PRESENTABILITY:  10

Lots of potential here. Definitely serve ribs. Optional watermelon, lemon meringue pie and gigantic pancakes. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, get some pig masks, afro wigs, KKK hoods and pimp hats and make it a racist costume party. For a drinking game you could tell your guests to drink every time the “tongue-in-cheek” racism makes them uncomfortable or anytime anyone watching is visibly confused. And if that person says, “What the fuck!?” out loud, he or she has to drink double.

SEX/VIOLENCE:  5

All of it is slapstick. The bumbling, cartoonishly stupid police officers all get pied in the face (within the first two minutes of the movie!), somebody is always crashing through a door or window, and the one sex scene features a comically collapsing bed. Har-har.

PERFORMANCE:  7

Enthusiastic caricatures, all across the board.

DATABILITY:  10

The too self-aware quality of the “joke” racism makes this a classic blacksploitation flick. Add in the costumes, the jive-talkin’ and random, totally funked-out song and dance numbers and you have a perfectly encapsulated bit of shameless 70s camp-trash.

SCRIPT:  9

It was a nice mix of predictable schlock (like the dumb cops, one of whom is so fat he gets stuck in the police car, then later in a doorway, and again in another doorway), crazy racist pre-ebonics dialogue, and bizarre (coke-fueled) plot developments. I was worried at first that Sirina’s missing mother was just going to be another boring kidnapping for ransom by drug lords or gang members, but then the Colonel put on the tight pink spandex pig suit and I quit worrying and started just being entertained and appalled instead.

RELEVANCE:  7

I assume the film makers were going for some comment on the complexity of race relations, that is, if they were going for anything at all. The “funny” thing about movies like this is that yes, superficially, they’re all about black empowerment (the crazy-awesome black people always triumph over the racist piggy white people), but the black characters are still these wildly inappropriate stereotypes. What’s up with that?

ORIGINALITY:  9

Between the spandex pig people and the sentient, Jewish-sounding womb machine that looks like a Dr. Suess illustration, I think they have their originality bases covered.

CINEMATOGRAPHY:  9

The editing was done by a schizophrenic, on cocaine. An actor with the final line in a scene would still be on the last syllable of the last word when BAM! we’re suddenly in some kind of arabian whorehouse, or an arctic pot-growing operation, or there’s a man in a diaper flailing around in a room full of suds.

PRODUCTION DESIGN:  9

High marks for ridiculous costumes, lavish ghetto sets and a super funky soundtrack punctuated with a really unnecessary amount of cartoon sound effects. The final battle scene is scored like a circus parade, complete with slide whistles, honking horns and a whole chorus of kazoos. I was particularly impressed with the neighborhood dope man’s tricked-out bicycle dealer-mobile, from which he sold various drugs in frozen dessert form (potsicles and speedsicles mostly).

TOTAL:  82

Like snorting some good-quality coke and crapping out an entire bucket’s worth of KFC onto the confederate flag.

Today’s Recipe:  Coca Cola-glazed Baby Back Ribs

Ingredients:

1 cup Coca-Cola Classic

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

11/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

2 Scotch bonnet chiles, chopped

2 racks baby back ribs (3 pounds total)

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the glaze:

In a small saucepan, bring the Coca-Cola, vinegar, brown sugar, and chiles to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Decrease the heat to low and keep the sauce warm while the ribs cook.

For the meat:

Preheat the oven to 325̊F. Liberally season both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper. Place the ribs on a broiler pan and bake for 30 minutes, glazing the ribs occasionally with the Coca-Cola mixture. Turn the ribs over and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes, glazing occasionally, or until the ribs are tender and the meat is starting to pull away from the bone.

Set the oven to broil. Liberally spoon half of the remaining glaze over the ribs and broil until glazed a deep mahogany brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn over; repeat with the remaining glaze, an additional 5 to 7 minutes.

Serve immediately.

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~ by mgjk on February 1, 2010.

One Response to “Darktown Strutters (1975)”

  1. this is what we are not known.
    Michaelmatician transmits the time and time.
    Shall be known unexploited.

    2.342

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