Monday, 31 March 2014
Jive Turkey (1974)
This Blaxploitation pic begins with the notice that 'This is a true story. Only the names, places and events have been changed'. I'm not sure how 'true' you can be when you have changed the names, places and events, but I suspect the answer is 'not very'.
It follows this up with a gloriously over the top 'conference' between African American gang leader Jabbah and his Italian American counterpart, Frank. Frank warns Jabbah that 'Chicago has a contract on you' and that he has to lose either his numbers business or his life. Jabbah isn't much impressed by this, but pretends to go along, though I suspect that having his bodyguard (a suspiciously tall and powerful woman named 'Serene') murder Frank's bodyguard on the way out may be a clue to his real intentions.
After this fun one-two punch of silliness, the movie loses steam. We get a lot of talking about stuff happening; police raids on Jabbah's businesses and the like; but most of it occurs off screen and the few action sequences we do see tend to be pretty humdrum affairs. The only enlivening note is when Serene returns for a spot of murder by drugging some guys and then beating them to death with her high heels. And even that is better in concept than in execution.
Eventually Jabbah and Frank have things out, in a finale that frankly made me doubt both men's intelligence. Eventually the stupidest one dies, and the movie ends.
The film's also known by the title Baby Needs A New Pair of Shoes, which I guess is a somewhat fitting title since it ties into Serene's method of killing. Probably more fitting than Jive Turkey, really.