Friday Foster (1975)
By: Stuart Giesel August 20, 2012  | 
MGM (USA) | Region 1, NTSC | 1.85:1 (Non-anamorphic) | English DD 2.0 Mono | 89 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Arthur Marks
Starring: Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto, Godfrey Cambridge, Thalmus Rasulala
Screenplay: Orville H. Hampton
Country: USA
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Coming off a high from the blaxploitation classics Coffy and Foxy Brown, I was eager for more. I'd heard about other Pam Grier films from the same era, notably Friday Foster and Sheba, Baby, and that neither film came close in quality to the Grier/Jack Hill pics. Given that MGM has been slow to release R4 DVDs of other blaxploitation films, I had to look to America to continue my blaxploitation odyssey (read: Amazon). So even if Friday Foster doesn't quite measure up to Pam Grier's more well-known films, is it still a decent flick?

Pam Grier plays Friday Foster, a photographer who is told to get her "cute little behind" down to an airport with the worst security ever to photograph the arrival of a millionaire black man named Blake Tarr (!) but "not to get involved" - presumably she has a reputation for screwing the subject of every photo shoot she takes. She winds up taking incriminating shots of an assassination attempt on Tarr and is soon following a chain of events, including the death of a friend, that lead to the cryptic "Black Widow" and some suspicious characters including a U.S. congressman. With the aid of her P.I. friend (played by Yaphet Kotto), Foster uncovers the plans of a dangerous militant group as they try to exterminate all the black leaders in Washington D.C. (which includes dressing up white people in unconvincing afros and blackface makeup!).

Friday Foster doesn't have as much of the sleaze, the nudity or the violence of either Coffy or Foxy Brown and, of course, suffers as a result. Sure, you don't really expect Pam Grier in revenge mode a'la Coffy, given that this is based on a comic strip and the character is a photographer, but comparisons will still be made. What Friday Foster does have going for it, other than Grier (who sadly doesn't shed her clothes with quite the same willingness she did in either Coffy or Foxy Brown) is a terrific cast of genre favourites, including the aforementioned Kotto, the always-welcome Carl Weathers, Godfrey Cambridge (as an OTT gay nightclub owner), Thalmus Rasulala, Eartha Kitt and Scatman Crothers. There's also a brief appearance by Jim Backus, who's best known as Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island.

The movie clips along at a decent pace, and the tone is definitely more lighthearted than either Coffy or Foxy Brown. The action scenes are fairly mundane other than a rooftop chase which was done pre-CGI and is all the better for it. Director Arthur Marks doesn't quite have the flair for this sort of thing that Jack Hill did, but he's churned out a fairly entertaining picture nonetheless. Yes, the plot and the writing is pretty lightweight, but there's enough Grier sassiness and skin to keep the interest. It still earns its (US) R rating with enough violence and nudity to firmly establish itself in the blaxploitation genre, though it probably equates to an Australian M rating overall.

As always, Grier is a charismatic lead, even if some of her lines are a little eye-rolling. Some of the other performances are hit-and-miss - Eartha Kitt in particular is, well, Eartha Kitt, so make of that what you will. Weathers plays a silent assassin with his usual strong screen presence (it's a scientific fact that the presence of Carl Weathers in a film or TV show automatically improves the product by 12%). Grier and Kotto make a likeable team, and Kotto in particular seems to be having a ball playing a tough but wisecracking investigator with the hots for Friday. However some of the best scenes, featuring two of my favourite characters, are those involving Friday's brother Cleve - who's a miniature capitalist entrepreneur cashing in on gifts for Friday - and one of Friday's prospective beaus who continually hands over expensive presents in the hope of enlisting her services as one of his prostitutes. It's a nice little running joke, even if it has nothing to do with the overall story. Another amusing scene, though probably not intentional, is the fashion show run by Eartha Kitt's character, involving four of the oddest, unsexiest models you're ever likely to see.

On the whole, whilst it's a little disjointed, Friday Foster is fun and - most importantly - watchable. It's the decaf of blaxploitation films: not quite as satisfying or strong as the real thing, but a decent enough substitute.
Bearing in mind that this is low-budget exploitation film from the 70's, the picture is decent enough but be warned that the picture is noticeably soft throughout and suffers from aliasing and artifacts in particular scenes. It's still an acceptable (non-anamorphic) widescreen transfer
The mono audio tracks are, as one might expect, functional but nothing special. The film's almost overbearingly funky score cuts through the ears like a knife through butter.
Extra Features
The disc includes a trailer for Friday Foster.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Less serious and gritty than some of Pam Grier's other efforts, this is a mostly enjoyable romp that's bolstered by Grier and Yaphet Kotto's engaging chemistry. Think of Friday Foster as the playful cousin of Coffy and Foxy Brown and it's likely you'll enjoy the film for what it is.

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