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"Superfly" helps represent the era of the Seventies
on 29 June 2007
This movie is outrageous. Gordon Parks Jr.'s "Superfly" is interesting enough with its cliches of drug pushers, users, pimps, hos, and the dismal life in the ghetto. Good performances are given by Ron O'Neal as Priest, the drug pusher who wants to do the unthinkable -- get out of the business, and Julius Harris as Scatter, Priest's former connection to "The Man". After a little "help" from his friends Priest discovers he can only trust his woman, Georgia (Shelia Frazier). But, Priest has masterminded a way to take him and Georgia away from this life to another.
A director today, for example, could never get away with making a movie like this. The movie moves along like a series of music videos, stopping periodically to insert some dialogue and characters and situations, after which it moves back into another music video. Even that sex scene in the bathtub seemed to go on forever, panning up and down and up and down and up and down the naked bodies in the tub, presumably long enough for the song to play out before we can move on to the next scene.
From a technical standpoint, the film is an absolute disaster. There's a foot-chase early in the movie during which a wire of some sort falls directly in front of the camera lens not once, but twice, the audio is numerous scenes does not even remotely match the video (the never-ending bathtub scene, for example), and the acting is abysmal.
Throughout the film, the enjoyment comes from Curtis Mayfield's superb soundtrack. It has a way of elevating what might be just another b film to a cult classic. From "Little Child Runnin' Wild" in the opening sequence to Curtis Mayfield's live performance of "Pusherman" in Scatter's club to the end credits with the title track, this is simply one of the finest pieces of music ever written specifically for a film. The soundtrack album, which produced hit singles with "Freddie's Dead" and "Superfly", stands with Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" as perhaps the two greatest soul albums of the 1970's.