APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 29: Friday Foster (1975)

Not just a blaxploitation, not just a comic strip movie, not just a Pam Grier movie, this is also her last movie for AIP that ties in race identity, being a woman and, most essentially, Pam Grier kicking ass for 90 minutes.

Friday Foster comes from an American newspaper comic strip, created and written by Jim Lawrence — who wrote the James Bond strip — and illustrated by Jorge Longarón that ran from January 18, 1970, to February 17, 1974. She was one of the first African-American women characters to star in her own strip with only Jackie Ormes’ Torchy Brown coming before it (that strip ran in the Pittsburgh Courier, which makes me quite happy to know that my hometown sometimes does things ahead of the rest of the world). Friday started as an assistant to high-fashion photographer Shawn North, but soon became an international supermodel leaving her troubled life in Harlem behind her. Since her strip ended, Friday has shown up in Dick Tracy.

Foster (Grier) has witnessed an assassination attempt on the wealthiest African American, Blake Tarr (Thalmus Rasulala) and then her best friend Cloris Boston (Rosaline Miles) is murdered. Soon, not listening to her boss’ warning to stay out of her stories, she finds herself targeted for death.

Arthur Marks already had some comic strip experience, directing three episodes of the Steve Canyon TV series. He also directed Bonnie’s KidsDetroit 9000BucktownA Women for All MenJ.D.’s RevengeClass of ’74The Roommates and the “Find Loretta Lynn” episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. Writer Orville H. Hampton worked on everything from Rocketship X-M and Mesa of Lost Women to The Four Skulls of Jonathan DrakeJack the Giant Killer and episodes of FlipperPerry MasonSuper FriendsFantasy Island and The Dukes cartoon.

There are some great people in this, like Yaphet Kotto as private detective Colt Hawkins, Earth Kitt as fashion designer Madame Rena, Scatman Crothers, Godfrey Cambridge, Ted Lange and Jim Backus as a racist Senator. There’s even a scene with a young Carl Weathers as one of the bad guy’s goons.

The real joy of this film is the agency it affords Friday. She’s gorgeous, sure, but she can easily best any man. And when she beds more than one over the running time of the film, she’s never judged. Best of all, her blackness is central to who she is and not an afterthought.

Supposedly Marks was trying to turn this into a TV series. I wish that had happened because one Friday Foster adventure is nowhere near enough.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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