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Shaft (1971)

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Cool black private eye John Shaft is hired by a crime lord to find and retrieve his kidnapped daughter.

Director:

Gordon Parks

Writers:

Ernest Tidyman (screenplay), John D.F. Black (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
4,493 ( 457)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Roundtree ... John Shaft
Moses Gunn ... Bumpy Jonas
Charles Cioffi ... Vic Androzzi
Christopher St. John ... Ben Buford
Gwenn Mitchell Gwenn Mitchell ... Ellie Moore
Lawrence Pressman ... Tom Hannon
Victor Arnold ... Charlie
Sherri Brewer Sherri Brewer ... Marcy
Rex Robbins Rex Robbins ... Rollie
Camille Yarbrough Camille Yarbrough ... Dina Greene
Margaret Warncke Margaret Warncke ... Linda
Joseph Leon Joseph Leon ... Byron Leibowitz
Arnold Johnson Arnold Johnson ... Cul
Dominic Barto Dominic Barto ... Patsy
George Strus George Strus ... Carmen
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Storyline

John Shaft is the ultimate in suave black detectives. He first finds himself up against Bumpy, the leader of the Black crime mob, then against Black nationals, and finally working with both against the White Mafia who are trying to blackmail Bumpy by kidnapping his daughter. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The mob wanted Harlem back. They got Shaft...up to here. See more »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 July 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Shaft See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,125,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The background singers in the film's theme song are Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson from Tony Orlando & Dawn. See more »

Goofs

Towards the end, before the rescue of Marcy, a chef is seen breaching health and safety regulations by smoking while peeling potatoes. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
John Shaft: [holding up his middle finger to a cab driver who is honking his horn at him] Up yours! Get out the way!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Most UK video versions, including the widescreen Maverick Directors release, feature an edited print of the film which is dubbed to remove strong language. DVD releases are fully uncut. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Scarface: The World Is Yours (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Bumpy's Lament
(uncredited)
Composed by Isaac Hayes
Performed by Isaac Hayes
See more »

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User Reviews

The one and only original action-classic
15 October 2004 | by raysondSee all my reviews

"Shaft" was without a doubt one of those films that broke the mold of stereotypes and opened the floodgates to the blaxploitation renaissance of the Black Cinema Movement during the 1970's. It also introduced us to the world the Black Cinema's first-ever African-American actor as a figure of authority as well as a superhero of sorts. In other words,a man who was taking charge of his own actions and not by the MAN. Filmdom's first ever Black detective is one that was very successful in this first ever series of SHAFT movies including its two sequels and a short-lived television series. However,this film was the second feature to be directed by former Life Magazine photographer Gordon Parks Sr.,who was coming off of his most successful film,"The Learning Tree",which was released by another studio and was the first Black director to have his film financed by a major Hollywood studio at the time(Warner Bors. Pictures).

SHAFT was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the summer of 1971.

This time around,his second feature brought out his talent for capturing an image and his personal insight of life on the streets and in the ghettos to bring to the screen a hard-hitting,gritty,and edgy to the core crime-drama thriller based on the novel by Ernest Tidyman,who wrote the screenplay along with screenwriter John D.F. Black and produced by Sterling Silliphant and Roger Lewis. Its also to note out that this film introduce audiences to the world Richard Roundtree in the title role,who was a former Ebony male-model before he made his mark as an actor in motion pictures and SHAFT was basically the jumpstart from the beginning and set the tone for others blaxploitation films of the 1970's to follow. The plot,about a private detective hired by a Harlem mobster(Moses Gunn)to find his missing daughter who goes through the infiltration of the mob before finding and rescuing the girl is solid entertainment that doesn't disappoint and keeps the audience in check with hard-hitting suspense and tense action throughout. Although there several obvious racial tensions throughout the film,director Gordon Parks keeps these tensions in check who keeps his focus mainly on the humanistic elements of the character. It is also to note that the depth that goes beyond the image of the super-slick,tough as nails detective is showing other sides of his personality. At the time SHAFT was released in 1971,its studio,the great MGM was facing bankruptcy,and the studio bosses at MGM figured that SHAFT would make a lot of money. Well,it did. And did execeptionally well making it one of the highest grossing box office films of that year and one of the top five box office gross films of 1971 and it helped keep MGM in business. It is also to note that composer Issac Hayes,made history as well by being the first African-American in history to win the Academy Award for Best Musical Score,which to goes to note one of the most famous scores in music history.


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