Friday Foster (1975)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/21/15
Cast: Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto, Godfrey Cambridge, Thalmus Rasulala, Eartha Kitt, Jim Backus, Scatman Crothers, Ted Lange, Paul Benjamin, Jason Bernard, Julius Harris, Carl Weathers

Arguably Pam Grier's best mainstream film, but it's not her most entertaining work. Based on a comic strip, Friday Foster (Pam Grier) is a fashion photographer who witnesses an attempted assassination of America's richest black man (Thalmus Rasulala). When her good friend Cloris is murdered, Friday and detective Colt Hawkins (Yaphet Kotto) head to Washington D.C. to find the killer. Friday has quite a knack for getting herself into trouble, and she's also rather fond of stealing cars. After numerous false leads and attempts on her life, Friday finally unravels a plot to kill all of America's black leaders while they're gathered at a political retreat.

The film features excellent production values and benefits from an all-star cast, but the pacing is sluggish and the script is confusing and weak. Some of the dialog is embarrassingly awful, and Yaphet Kotto's character comes across as more of a dork than anything. Pam Grier is delightfully charming throughout, although she sometimes overplays her flirtiness to the point of self-aware parody. Carl Weathers makes a wonderful villain, and his action scenes are the highlight of the show. Julius Harris is a lot of fun as Friday's grumpy boss, and cameos by Scatman Crothers, an effeminate Godfrey Cambridge, and a pimptastic Ted Lange are a hoot. The film features several car chases, but they lack kinetic enthusiasm. In many ways, it feels like the film is holding back its thrills, in a cautious attempt to maintain a more light-hearted and family-friendly tone. If you're looking for Ms. Grier, you've come to the right place, but if you're looking for action, you might want to look elsewhere.