“Thank God It’s Not Friday…”
I was quite surprised to realize this was actually adapted from a nationally-syndicated comic strip, the first to have a black woman – indeed, a black character of any kind – as its focus. However, by the time the film came out, in 1975, the strip had already come to an end, running from 1970-74; despite it’s groundbreaking heroine, it’s now largely forgotten. The film is too, with a title that is so bland, I nearly skipped over it entirely on Netflix. If it wasn’t for the completist in me, I’d probably have been better off doing so, for this is a very minor Grier entry, despite what is almost an all-star cast. Besides Grier and Kotto, as the poster mentions, there’s also Eartha Kitt, Carl Weathers, Jim Backus, Scatman Crothers and Rosalind Miles (the last who was in the surprisingly-decent Al Adamson flick, I Spit on your Corpse!).
Shame the storyline doesn’t really know what to do with them, meandering instead through a muddy plot that tries to make up, in whizzing from Los Angeles to Washington, what it makes up for in genuine coherence. Friday (Grier) is a photographer who is sent on New Year’s Eve to get the scoop on the unexpected return of Blake Tarr (Rasulala), the “black Howard Hughes,” she instead witnesses an assassination attempt. [I note, this is one of the few genre entries which depicts black citizens at all tiers of society, including the top of the power elite.] Shortly after, her best friend is stabbed to death at a fashion show, after intimating to Foster that something is up. You will not be surprised to hear that these things are connected, and finding the truth takes the help of a friendly private-eye (Kotto), and Friday crossing the country, before a massive shoot-out erupts on a preacher’s country estate.
However, Friday is not very much involved in this – indeed, despite the obvious flaunting of a gun in the poster, she’s disappointingly pacifist. I mean, when an assassin (Weathers) breaks into her apartment while she’s showering, she runs away. That is not the Pam Grier for which I signed up, I signed up for the one that would have kicked the assailant’s arse, strangled him with her towel, then calmly returned to her shower. I was kinda amused by the way she steals cars at will – first a hearse, then (of all things!) a milk-float. But as a plucky investigative heroine who steps aside and lets the men do just about all actual fighting necessary, she’s more like Brenda Starr than Foxy Brown. Aside from Grier’s shower and the occasional N-word, this romp could just about play on TV without anyone getting too upset. And that just ain’t right.
Dir: Arthur Marks
Star: Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto, Godfrey Cambridge, Thalmus Rasulala