Nov 99: Cleopatra Jones is Back In Town

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by Blair Smith

There are many sisters from seventies films that deserve both our respect and recognition. We owe them a debt of gratitude for being everything we expect from the guilty pleasure of Blaxploitation films. By the way, Blaxploitation is a term with which I am very uncomfortable but we will use just for clarity sake. Characters like Foxy Brown, Christy Love, Sheba Baby and Leggy Peggy are burned into the minds of those who watch late night TNT or are lucky enough to have a Mom and Pop video stores in the neighborhood. Many of these characters were brought to the screen by the immortal Pam Grier, who looks just as good today as she did when she blew away "the Man" in Coffey.

However, there is one sister who wore her Afro and toted an Uzi better than any other. All the while fighting within the system for "Our People" instead of as an outlaw. Tamara Dobson rolled through movie screens in her white Corvette Stingray as the sensational Cleopatra Jones in 1973. She is most remembered by the film's sequel, Cleopatra Jones and the City of Gold with Stella Stevens. This is an early example in Hollywood of a sequel gaining more props than the original.

Directed by Chuck Bail in 1975, and available on Warner Home Video and DVD, these films mirror many of the struggles we face today and reinforce the feelings of those over forty that nothing has changed. Drugs, Black on Black crime, and "The Man" are all incorporated in the story lines along with a though provoking message about Brotherhood and Sisterhood toward the end. In this story, Federal Agent Cleopatra Jones leaves uptown to travel to Hong Kong and take on the Dragon Princess. An interesting role for Stella Stevens considering she is not Asian but that's the movies. Look for Mr. Roper (the late Norman Fell) in a few scenes. The Dragon Princess plans to unleash drugs on a global scale so Cleopatra Jones infiltrates her casino to stop her. Now with modern story lines like Wild Wild West, it seems like nothing is impossible for brothers and sisters these days. However in the mid-seventies, the idea of a Black Female Federal Agent saving the world was considered equally far-fetched. Yet, these story lines are brought to the screen with a certain streetwise realism despite the cheesy sets and poor quality.

So indulge yourself with a real sister this month and see Cleopatra Jones in the Casino of Gold. She takes strong our black women to a whole other level.


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