FRIDAY FOSTER (1975) Shows Pam Grier’s Lighter Side, Closes An Era. New On Blu

Friday Foster arrived on Blu-ray on June 9 from Olive Films.

After the success of Coffy, Pam Grier had a busy period of activity through the early to mid 70s. Her last film with American International Pictures was Friday Foster. The film is based on the comic strip of the same name, a fact of which is probably lost on modern viewers, as the film has eclipsed its source material in the public eye. The strip ran in the early 70s, and is notable for being the first to feature a black female lead protagonist.

Friday Foster was directed by Arthur Marks, who also directed Pam in Bucktown. Marks was a fairly prolific director in the blaxploitation genre who also had Detroit 9000, JD’s Revenge, and The Monkey Hu$tle to his credit.

Friday is not another larger-than-life avenger like Coffy or Foxy. Rather, her character seems to borrow from another famous comics character — Lois Lane. Not unlike the Daily Planet’s intrepid reporter, Friday’s job as a photojournalist gets her near big stories, but also puts her in harm’s way. The difference, though, is that Friday doesn’t rely on a Superman to bail her out of her jams.

Compared to Coffy and Foxy Brown, Friday Foster is a more traditional mystery thriller with romantic and comedic elements. And while still R rated, it’s a much tamer and more mainstream affair.

African-American civil and political leaders are being targeted by assassination attempts, and Friday means to get to the bottom of it, especially after a friend of hers is killed under seemingly related circumstances. She teams up with detective Colt Hawkins (Yaphet Kotto) investigating and soon finds herself in a love quadrilateral between Hawkins and a pair of the nation’s richest and most powerful black leaders, played by Thalmus Rasulala and Paul Benjamin (Rasulala starred in Cool Breeze, in which Grier appeared in a minor role, and who could ever forget Benjamin’s soul-crushing performance in Across 110th St?).

On that note, one thing that clearly sets this film apart is the stellar ensemble cast. Besides Grier, Kotto, Rasulala and Benjamin, the film is teeming with famous supporting actors and blaxploitation regulars in some really juicy roles: Scatman Crothers as a horny priest, Godfrey Cambridge channeling a certain flamboyancy, Julius Harris as Friday’s hard-nosed editor, and a deliriously overacting Eartha Kitt as a catty fashion queen.

Most importantly, a young Carl Weathers plays the creepy stalker who repeatedly tries to murder Friday, and eventually has a rooftop chase, gun battle, and fistfight with Detective Hawkins.

I say again: This movie has a fight between Carl Weathers and Yaphet Kotto. Incidentally, both of these men would go on to play Arnold Schwarzenegger sidekicks in films that also featured Jesse Ventura, but that’s neither here nor there.

Sadly, Friday Foster signaled the end of an era. Released at Christmas of 1975, it was Pam’s final picture with AIP. By then the blaxploitation genre was waning, and while Grier would continue to be active, it would prove to be her last lead role for over two decades, until Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown in 1997.

Friday Foster never reaches the dizzying heights of Pam’s collaborations with Jack Hill, but is pretty solid entertainment, though frankly I got a bit disinterested with the whodunit angle and wanted to see some action (which is eventually delivered). Nor is it the same kind of showcase for Pam, who shares the spotlight with a magnificent ensemble cast. In fact, it’s pretty much a reversal: Friday is the most normal character in the film, surrounded by a circus of wacky, comic-booky personalities. As a result, Friday isn’t quite as charismatic and resourceful a character as Pam’s better known icons, but even in a more passive role, she still shines.

The Package

Friday Foster arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films, along with Coffy and Foxy Brown, and Fred Williamson vehicle Hammer.

Special Features and Extras

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:
 [Blu-ray] | [DVD] | [Instant]

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