Monday, 23 June 2014

The Guy From Harlem (1977)

Harlem-born but Florida-based PI Al Connors is hired by the CIA to be a bodyguard for the wife of a visiting African dignitary.  All happily takes the pay day when he hears the woman is attractive, but he's not the only one with an interest in her.

For most movies, that'd be plenty on which to base an entire narrative, at least after you explained why the CIA needs to turn to a private investigator for a sensitive job like this, and also why the CIA are doing it and not the secret service.

For this film, however, that's only half a movie.  Once Al's thwarted an attempt to kidnap the lady in question and seduced her with his "smooth" pick up lines, the whole thing gets dropped and an entirely new case begins.  It's almost like this started as two episodes of a TV show, though I can find no evidence of that (nor can I believe any TV station would have picked it up if it had been).

The new case is to pay the ransom for a gangster's daughter, who has been kidnapped by a rival crime lord.  Al's too smooth for that action, though.  He tails the villain's henchman to the girl, engages in hilariously inept judo shenanigans to take down the ruffians who are there, and rescues the girl.

She of course, sleeps with him too.

All this ticks off the rival crime lord, one "Big Daddy", who was also behind the foiled kidnapping of the dignitary's wife, and he challenges Al to come meet him.

Will Al win through in the end?  Well, since this Big Daddy isn't Shirley Crabtree, yeah, he probably will.

So is this movie any good?  Oh my word no.  It's badly acted, badly shot, badly lit, badly written ... about the only thing that's good is the jivetastic theme song.  The movie either knows that, or they had no cash for the rest of the soundtrack, because it's the only music I remember hearing in the whole thing.

This is ultra-cheap blaxploitation, with the hysterical outfits and slapdash film-making that often implies, though much less violence and nudity than usual.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, but unless you have a taste for the "passionate but rubbish" school of cinema, you can safely skip it.

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