Cleopatra Jones

Screening on Film
Directed by Jack Starrett.
With Tamara Dobson, Bernie Casey, Shelley Winters.
US, 1973, 35mm, color, 89 min.

Cutting a striking figure across a dramatic mountain landscape, Special Agent Cleopatra Jones, clad in a long black cape and fur bonnet, watches fields of poppies burn. Less emotional, naked and raw than the Pam Grier cycle, Cleopatra Jones presents a glossier 007-style action heroine who maintains her cool and keeps her ever-changing outfits securely fastened. Like Grier, former model Tamara Dobson changes the action movie game with her beauty, brains and physical prowess. She too is up against crooked cops, double-crossing brethren and “Mommy,” Shelley Winters’ kitschy dominatrix who attempts to control the city through drugs and violence. Yet Jones is a sophisticated martial artist and a professional protector of her community. The vengeful blasts of Foxy and Coffy are desperate, enraged shouts compared to the slick choreography of the semi-futuristic Cleo, who drives a Batmobile-like Corvette complete with a car phone and an arsenal of automatic weapons hidden in the door.

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Say It Loud!
The Black Cinema Revolution