Director: Jack Hill
Writer: Jack Hill
Score: Roy Ayers
Cast Pam Grier, Booker Bradshaw, Sid Haig, Alan Arbus
‘Coffy is a colour….’ as the main title lyrics goes….. and also the nick name of Pam Grier’s kick-ass heroine.
Coffy was the first film that teamed director Jack Hill and his lead actress Pam Grier in an straight hell ride revenge flick. This launched the career of Grier and made her into a strong feminine lead actress where Hollywood really had none. In the realm of low budget Blaxploitation film making where studios let things run, the strong female characters would flourish, with Grier being in the forefront.
Nurse “Coffy” Coffin (Pam Grier) seeks revenge for her younger sister’s getting hooked on drugs and having to live in a rehabilitation home, a product of the drug underworld hierarchy and a chain of violence that exists in her city, Coffy has had enough of her city crawling with dope pushers, pimps and the politicians who seem to be pulling the strings. Coffy picks up a sawed-off shotgun and decides to settle the score. Revenge fells good. In between some late-night cavorting with her civic-minded police boyfriend, the one-woman hit squad follows a trail of junkies and working girls to King George (Robert DoQui), the pimp of pimps, even his own shadow would be scared to cross him! Coffy infiltrates his harem of high-class escorts, which isn’t easy. Though her detective work isn’t exactly in Sherlock Holmes’s league, she talks and seduces her way into the inner circle responsible for most of the unseemly stuff that’d hacked her off in the first place. But who she comes face-to-face with there may prove more than one woman can take.
At least without a loaded shotgun in her hands. Coffy comes finally meets with Allan Arbus as the diminutive mob boss who makes unusual demands of King George’s girls. Arbus is probably most recognized for his recurring role as Dr. Sidney Freedman in the television series “M*A*S*H.” The finale is all set up for a showdown with the top scumbag and only one of them is going to walk away!
I first saw Coffy on DVD in 2006 released on the MGM label Soul Cinema which was their USA based. Later made available in the UK. I had not had the pleasure of watching this film on VHS like my previous review of the classic Foxy Brown reviewed here Foxy Brown (1974). This particular print was on the Arrow Video release of Coffy on BluRay, a fantastically packaged edition, with a sharp print and a cool re-mastered soundtrack.
Again, like Foxy BrownI thoroughly enjoyed the tough female protagonist that Pam Grier embud, Add that to a potent mix of a top draw soundtrack by Roy Ayers, the soundtrack is chock-full of quirky little catchy melodies and songs that while are far from Grammy inspiring material, provide humourous in lyrics full of colourful lyrical content that often goes nowhere, but still keeps the viewer toe-tapping to every beat. Including a fantastic cast of support actors, including Sid Haig, who plays unhinged menace so well in the films, you have another classic example of well made exploitation cinema, worthy of constant viewing and appraisal.
Going back to the soundtrack, I had the good fortune of watching Roy Ayers at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London’s SoHo some 15 years ago. He did actually play the title track to Coffy and it was amazing to hear, as the who band played the music pitch perfect and Ayers was the the all inspiring maestro, fantastic to hear.