Thursday, April 2, 2009

Film Review: FOXY BROWN (1974, Jack Hill)

Stars: 4.5 of 5.
Running Time: 94 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Pam Grier, Peter Brown, Terry Carter, Sid Haig, Juanita Brown, Antonio Fargas.
Tag-lines: "Don't mess aroun' with Foxy Brown Don't mess aroun' with Foxy Brown - She's the meanest chick in town!" AND "A chick with drive who don't take no jive!" AND "She's brown sugar and spice but if you don't treat her nice she'll put you on ice!"
Best one-liner: "You pink-ass corrupt honky judge, take your little wet noodle outta here and if you see a man anywhere send him in because I do need a MAN!"

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Jack Hill takes a hold of this sage advice, and picks up basically where COFFY left off. Originally, this was a sequel entitled "BURN, COFFY, BURN!," but for whatever reason, the studio changed their mind at the last minute, and FOXY BROWN was born. Pam Grier as Foxy Brown is a whole lotta woman.

Or so says her brother after Foxy shoots his ear off. (He deserved it, by the way.) Foxy (as in COFFY, with her Jamaican accents and insane wigs) is a master of disguise.

Foxy is also a master of bustin' up furniture. She even has a "black belt in barstools."

Yeah, this movie is THAT awesome.

There's psychedelic dance sequences, graft, corruption, topless women, castrations, the line "Don't pinch the fruit, faggot!" (which gets recycled for SWITCHBLADE SISTERS), and it all ends on a freeze frame. But before you can say, "A little taste of honey ain't good enough for me, I gotta have the whole beehive," FOXY BROWN turns the tables on you.

Allow me to explain. You're enjoying it as a revenge picture, and then, all of a sudden, there's depth. FOXY BROWN never lets you forget that while you're out there, enjoying yourself, the stakes are fucking high for these characters. They're having their friends and lovers murdered, they're getting raped- or, at the very least, having sex with repulsive men for money, and they might never see their kids again. And just as in THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS or COFFY, Jack Hill is a master of snapping you back into the harsh, tear-streamed reality of it, right after entertaining the hell out of you. He creates a world not unlike our own, but ultimately, it's fantasy, because at least in FOXY BROWN, some form of justice is served. When we get to a line like "Jail is where some of the finest people I know are these days," it's far from corny- it really matters.

-Sean Gill

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