Episode 21 - Dolemite (1975)
Today Mike and Chris (Hughes) discuss what the New York Times once dubbed, "The Citizen Kane of Blaxploitation Films", 1975's Dolemite Starring Rudy Ray Moore.
The other Chris is currently on tour with his band and will be back at the end of the month, until then Mike has found a few willing participants to fill those Mann-sized pants and fill in as co-hosts. Thanks to Hughes @IodineLive for filling in.
Dolemite is a great entry into the Blaxploitation genre of film: movies made by African-Americans for African-Americans in a time where traditional studios wouldn't produce content for them. The production quality was never top-notch, the acting and story were never up to par but the artistic spirit comes through and their voices were never marginalized.
Starting out as a character in the stand-up comedy act of Rudy Ray Moore on his various comedy/music albums, the Dolemite character was not created specifically for this films. Taking the proceeds from his records, Moore decided to create a film for $100,000. It would later gross over $12 million in the box office and launch the career of Moore as a cult-movie superstar. He would go on to write and star in many more pictures and remain a popular figure in black cinema for decades.
By technical standards the film is terrible. It's poorly shot and has a very long and subdued second act that never raises any stakes and barely has any tension. Despite that, I love this movie. Moore provides so many great one-liners, an incredible soundtrack, and just a feeling of fun and artistic freedom that we simply don't have in today's cinema. In a world where everything has to be perfect, it's fun to watch something that is so deeply flawed but so sincere.
The film is about a "pimp" named Dolemite who is let out of jail early to stop a rival gang leader, Willie Green - who is selling guns and drugs to the neighborhood kids. What we get is an hour and a half of hilarious jokes and one-liners and even more hilarious "fight scenes". It's something you just have to watch and appreciate yourself.