Bad, Black & Beautiful/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Bad, Black & Beautiful
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Covering all fronts—action, race and visage—Bad, Black and Beautiful is a titled-for-the-times blaxploitation entry: a lively look at what happens when a streetwise, street-talking lawyer is determined to win her case.

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In the lead as foxy defense attorney Eva Taylor, Gwynn Barbie is ready to upend anything—or anyone—that stands in her way. To aid and abet her pursuits she’s got a fuchsia-colored office and a bachelorette pad complete with pink leather couch, shag rugs and a fully stocked bar. And she’s an everywoman: a race car driver who takes home a trophy at the Greenville, Texas “Super Bowl” drag race, a sharp-shooter who outperforms all the men at target practice, a pilot who provides a favorite client with an aerial view of Texas—and admission into the “mile high club,” and a country music singer (!) who performs “If I'm Supposed to Cry” in front of a transfixed nightclub audience. Add the fact that she’s “famous” and having a torrid love affair with white newspaperman Mike Copeland (Sammy Sams) and you’ve got a black female super hero that’s trying to make Cleopatra Jones sashay away.

Will sharp-suited private investigator Rick Jacobs (Levi Balfour) be a help or a hindrance? Eva’s defending Johnnie Boyles (Terry Starnes) a Vietnam War vet who’s accused of killing his boss—and the mob has a stake in it. Everyone, including our heroin, is in grave danger.

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Writer/Producer/Director Bobby Davis’ singular contribution to the genre is threadbare and patchy (inserts of archival Vietnam War footage) but noteworthy—if only for an interracial switch: this time around it’s the woman who’s black and the man who’s white.

A nude pool party, a karate fight, a car chase, a kidnapping, a courtroom shoot-‘em-up, and a romantic interlude replete with rainbows, swans and a finger-lickin-good picnic, keep the film moving. So does a full second musical number, “Woman Hater Blues” performed on the stage of the Texas’ Landmore Living Room.

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Not as fun as the equally under-seen and spectacularly low-budget The Guy From Harlem, Bad, Black & Beautiful still satisfies. It’s the “one thrill after another” story of a no nonsense career woman who does right by her clients… and her lover!


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Josiah Howard is the author of four books including Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide (now in a fourth printing). His writing credits include articles for the American Library of Congress, The New York Times and Readers Digest. A veteran of more than one hundred radio broadcasts, Howard also lectures on cinema and is a frequent guest on entertainment news television. Visit his Official Website.

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