THE UNITED STATES OF GEEKDOM
A podcast by geeks of all trades, for geeks of all trades. We will talk about comic books, movies, TV shows, and all things that make us geeks go tick. Power to the different!

"No wisecracks? No jokes? No Begging, no pleading?" "No Way Fatso."

Rick here:  I have the privilege to review Cleopatra Jones and Ms. Winter's brilliant performance as Mamma. Cleopatra Jones is a classic 1973 movie from the blaxploitation era of film. I had never seen the flick before and being a fan of blaxploitation movies, I simply could not resist the badassery that this movie delivers.
In the film, Jones is a special agent assigned to eliminate drug-trafficking in the US and abroad. After Jones torches a poppy field in Turkey, Mommy, a drug-lady played with brilliant insanity by Shelley Winters, becomes furious and promises to destroy Jones. Mommy uses her link with corrupt officers on the force to stir up trouble for Jones' friends and to set her up to be jumped. Meanwhile, Mommy is having problems with some of her pushers, like the disloyal Doodlebug, played by Antonio Fargas. (source: Wikipedia)

The Good: Where do I begin? To focus on Ms. Winter's performance soley would be a grand injustice to the two leads Bernie Casey and Tamara Dobson. Both of these two actors bring credibility to their roles that would have otherwise come off as ridiculous if it had been played by anyone else. Tamara Dobson is awesome and simply stunning as the titular Cleopatra Jones. She brings an intensity to the role that has no match and it certainly does not hurt to know that she is not just a pretty face.  This lady has talent to match her looks. The scene where she terrorizes a drug dealer into giving her the information she wants by ripping up his clothes and taking apart his shoes is an absolute hoot.   In other words, Miss Dobson was definitely the real deal.  Bernie Casey is excellent as Ruben, Cleo's love interest in the movie.  I wish I could say more aboutnhim but he was not in the movie all that much.  Antonio Fargas as Doodlebug is great in his role as well.

As far as Shelley, her performance needs to be seen to be believed. According to one my my fellow Blaxploitation fans, words cannot do her performance any kind of justice because she goes from just absolutely bugnuts to subdued and quite brilliantly.  My problem with her performance is that she is barely in the movie to begin with.  I honestly think she is one of the true standout performances of the movie. It is rather obvious that she did the role for money but she clearly had a blast doing the role and steals every scene that she is in. Shelley Winters brings a certain craziness to the role of Mamma that is simply awesome.

The stunt work with the car chases and crashes is insanely great.  I say that because this was obviously in the 70's and without the advent of CG, the crashes and stunts were real.  In this age of computers being used to take the stuntman out of the equation for the sake of saving money.  The stunts look real and it's a breath of fresh air to these geeky lungs. 

The Bad: A remake was bandied about with Jennifer Lopez as the lead.  Thankfully, it never materialized and this movie thankfully remains remake free.

The insane: Both Tamara Dobson and Shelley Winters go through more costume changes than I can count in this movie.  Shelley Winters also goes through a different wig in every scene she's in.  It's great.  Oh and that car. Cleo's car.  With guns installed inside the car door and flames coming out of the tailpipe.  A slick looking car for one slick lady. 

Final rating: A fun, badass classic.  5 out of 5
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