WHAM! ….. BAM! ….. HERE COMES PAM!
Following up on the success of Coffy and Foxy Brown, American International continued the Pam Grier assault on the box office with Friday Foster that casts our favorite female vigilante of the movies as a crime fighting photographer working for a magazine run by Julius Harris. Following the opening credits Pam is off and running on assignment to get some paparazzi shots of millionaire Thalmus Rasulala who is arriving by private jet at the L.A. airport. Little does she know she’s walking right into an assassination attempt on the money man’s life.
You’ll also be sure to recognize the chief hitman with the heavy mustache. It’s Carl Weathers who was just one year away from finding fame as Apollo Creed. When the bullets start flying Pam has her camera clicking to the action. Unfortunately for our glamorous gal, Weathers gets a good look at her as he makes his getaway leaving Rasulala wounded and placing Pam’s life in jeopardy.
Injecting a bit of blaxploitation humor into the proceedings is Ted (Isaac the Bartender) Lange as Fancy Dexter. A decked out pimp with a quartet of lovelies around him who keeps turning up at Pam’s apartment building to woo her into his stable of beauties to become the featured attraction. It’s all played for fun and Pam will put him off on more than one occasion as the story progresses. Now back to the action…..
Eartha Kitt runs a fashion show and has her own bevy of beauties on the runway. One of whom is a girlfriend of Pam’s and happens to be connected to the assassination. With Weathers cutting all ties that might incriminate him, she’s about to be murdered. During this segment I’m sure fans of the 60’s series Batman will be sure to catch Miss Kitt give us that growling catwoman purr. Next up for our hitman is to go after Pam and where else would the producers of AIR want viewers to find Pam in the middle of the day? If you said the shower you’d be right. Pam gives us guys a little show and thankfully evades Apollo Creed’s right hook as well.
Joining Pam in the fight against crime is her personal P.I. Yaphet Kotto. Always a welcome presence to any movie, Kotto stands tall when needed but this is a Pam Grier movie so while he gets in on some of the action, don’t expect him to take all the bad guys out that the two will uncover as they follow the trail to Washington D.C. The men who are pulling the strings of Carl Weathers are in the capital. It seems that Mr. Magoo (that’s Jim Backus to the freshmen) and some other influential white dudes are looking to set a black senator (Paul Benjamin) against the wealthy Rasulala which will only weaken the black communities of America.
When Pam and Yaphet hit the nation’s capital, they’ll meet up with Godfrey Cambridge dropping in for a cameo in what would be his final screen role. He would pass away in 1976 at just 43 years of age. Next up for Miss Grier is a swank invitation party only where she’ll be dressed to the nines and none other then Scatman Crothers takes notice as only he can. Catching on to Scatman’s not so subtle hints, Pam will find herself wined and dined by the Senator himself. What does this all lead to? Pam in a large tub with not quite enough bubbles to cover up everything that should be. And no I’m not complaining.
Back to crime fighting and unveiling the villains, killing Carl Weathers and stopping a bloody massacre at the hands of a bunch of white boys wearing black face. This end bit reminds me of a whole posse of westerns where a bunch of white cowboys painted there faces red donning feathers and massacring wagon trains to start a frontier war. “Can you dig it?”
Though this may be a rather lame effort overall, who cares! It’s got Pam Grier and a damned solid cast around her as she fights back at the establishment.
On to trivia bits and observations I’ve been known to make when it comes to the universe of movies.
First off it’s blatantly obvious that Rocky Balboa watched this repeatedly to find the blueprint on how to defeat Apollo Creed. Yaphet Kotto’s body work on Creed proved to be sensational in their final battle leading to Creed’s fall. Thankfully for Creed, this was just a sparring session that very few people saw and had no effect on his perfect ring record up to that time. Full marks to Mickey in finding the film footage for the Italian Stallion to study.
Next up I’m wondering why Yaphet didn’t have the script rewritten. If he’s Pam’s “main man” as the poster clearly states, then how come she has two love scenes in the film and he’s not in either one. Clearly if I was labeled as Pam’s personal private eye, I’d have spoken up.
Is it just me or does Hollywood love to throw out what’s in the past in the name of marketing movies to new audiences today. The box office hit Black Panther was pretty much marketed to theaters as the first super hero of color. Not only did it forget to acknowledge the existence of Wesley Snipes as Blade but heck, even Friday Foster was a comic strip that Pam brought to life.
For those readers who might live in the D.C. area I have to ask, is there snow on the ground in February? The big finale here is to be another St. Valentine’s Day Massacre which places the time line as February 14th. In the Toronto area of Canada, we’re usually buried in the stuff.
This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to having my mug and Pam’s beautiful figure in the same picture so here it is. A one sheet of Friday Foster located here in the vault at Mike’s Take. And have a look at Brando the Dachshund on my shoulder. He got right bashful when I told him we were gonna take a picture with Wham Bam Pam.