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Who's the black private dick
That's a sex machine to all the chicks?
Ya damn right!
Who is the man that would risk his neck
For his brother man?
Can you dig it?
Who's the cat that won't cop out
When there's danger all about?
They say this cat Shaft is a bad mother-
SHUT YOUR MOUTH!
But I'm talkin' 'bout Shaft.
THEN WE CAN DIG IT!
He's a complicated man
But no one understands him but his woman
Shaft is a 1971 Blaxploitation film, based on Ernest Tidyman's novel of the same name. It tells the story of an African-American private detective, John Shaft, who travels through Harlem and infiltrates The Mafia in order to find the missing daughter of a black mobster. It stars Richard Roundtree as Shaft, Moses Gunn as Bumpy Jonas, Charles Cioffi as Lt. Vic Androzzi, and Christopher St. John as Ben Buford, along with Gwenn Mitchell and Lawrence Pressman. Isaac Hayes did the theme song quoted above, which has reached Memetic Mutation to the point where it may actually be better known than the movie..
The film was followed by another movie, along with a series of TV movies, following the further adventures of Shaft during the 1973-74 season on The New CBS Tuesday Night Movies. As the series was being aired on network television, the character of Shaft was toned down a fair amount; for example, he frequently worked with the police, instead of being against them as in the original movie. Due to this Executive Meddling, the series was unpopular, and it was quickly cancelled.
In the year 2000, a sequel/remake starring Samuel L. Jackson as the nephew of the original Shaft (Roundtree, in a cameo), also named John Shaft, who works for the NYPD. Christian Bale makes an early appearance as the villain.
For the anime studio, look no further than Studio Shaft.
Films in this series:
- Shaft (1971)
- Shaft's Big Score (1972)
- Shaft in Africa (1973)
- Shaft (2000)
Shaft contains examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Shaft's uncle in The Remake was played by the original John Shaft, Richard Roundtree.
- Angry Black Man
- Bad Mother F -- Shut your mouth!
- The Chief's Daughter: Shaft woos an African princess in the first sequel.
- Cold Cash
- Compensating for Something: Played up in the ads. According to a book on blaxploitation films, several theatres had a contest going during the run of In Africa where customers could win a prize if they correctly guessed the length of Shaft's... walking stick.
- Cowboy Cop: Jackson's Shaft, who when requested to turn in his badge does so by throwing it like a shuriken, causing it to embed itself in the wall next to a judge's head. Awesome? Very much so.
- Curse Cut Short: The title theme:
Isaac Hayes: They say this cat Shaft is a bad motherâ€”
Female Chorus: Shut your mouth!
Isaac Hayes: But I'm talkin' 'bout Shaft!
Female Chorus: And we can dig it.
- Fake Nationality: In the 2000 film, Christian Bale plays his customary Fake American role, and Jeffrey Wright plays a very convincing fake Dominican.
- Follow the Leader: Shaft essentially created Blaxploitation.
- Hollywood Healing: In the original, Shaft gets shot numerous times with a machine gun. He mysteriously lives.
- Ironic Echo: "Close it yourself, shitty!"
- Kick the Dog: In the original, Shaft uses one of the Big Bad's mooks as a human shield, causing the Big Bad to shoot his own mook.
- Line-of-Sight Name: The main character was named after, of all things, a fire shaft.
- New York City Cops: The Remake.
- Playing Against Type: Richard Roundtree was a male model before he was cast as Shaft.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In The Remake, Shaft spends the whole movie trying to get a murderer put in prison... and then the victim's mother shoots the murderer anyways, rendering Shaft's efforts pointless.
- Of course, since the murderer got Off on a Technicality twice - first by escaping to Switzerland after posting bail, and then was allowed to re-post bail upon returning despite being a proven flight risk(which led to Shaft doing that aforementioned Awesome shuriken thing) it was quite likely he was about to get off scott free. Vigilante Execution was likely the only way he was going down.
- Soul Brotha
- Spin Offspring: The Remake stars Samuel L. Mudafu- SHUT YOUR MOUTH! Jackson as the nephew of the original, played by Richard Roundtree in a cameo appearance.
- The Chosen Zero: One of the taglines was something along the lines of "The mob wanted Harlem back. They got Shaft".