NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Darktown Strutters (1977)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on July 23, 2020.

George Armitage wrote Gas-s-s-sPrivate Duty NursesNight Call Nurses and Vigilante Force before scoring mainstream success with Miami Blues and Grosse Point Blank. He told Film Comment, “I wrote Darktown Strutters in three days, and the script form is all one sentence, the entire script is one sentence.”

While he had wanted to direct this, William Witney ended up making it. Witney was a Hollywood vet, starting all the way back at Republic where he worked n movie serials. He worked a lot with Roy Rogers and at the end of his career, made a few movies with Gene Corman, including I Escaped from Devil’s Island and this movie.

This is less a narrative film and more a collection of hijinks as a gang of black bikers interacts with the police, all until Syreena starts to search for her missing mother, Cinderella. Turns out an evil barbecue chain — with an owner in full Klan regalia — has her.

Trina Parks from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and Diamonds Are Forever is Syreena, backed up by a cast featuring former Ikette Edna Richardson, Roger E. Mosley (TC from Magnum, P.I.), Stan Shaw (Detective Sapir from The Monster Squad), Alvin Childress (Amos of the Amos ‘n Andy TV show), Zara Cully (Mother Jefferson!) and, this being a Corman family film, Dick Miller.

Get ready for a fairy tale mixed with blaxploitation, basically, with plenty of great tunes from The Dramatics as well as John Gary Williams and The Newcomers.

And remember: “Any similarity between this true life adventure and the story Cinderella … is bullshit.”

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