|DETROIT 9000 (director/writer: Arthur Marks; screenwriters: Orville H. Hampton/ based on a story by Marks and Hampton; cinematographer: Harry May; editor: Richard Greer; music: Luchi DeJesus; cast: Alex Rocco (Lieut. Danny Bassett), Hari Rhodes (Sgt. Jesse Williams), C (Roby Harris), John Nichols (Detroit police commissioner), Vonetta McGee (Hooker), Ella Edwards (Helen Durbin), Scatman Crothers (the Reverend Markham), Rudy Challenger (Aubrey Hale Clayton); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Arthur Marks; Miramax; 1973)|
|"Its sleaze does justice to the
downtrodden once mighty city."
by Dennis Schwartz
Marks ("Friday Foster"/"Bucktown"/"The
Roommates") co-writes and directs the cynical, crude
and violent blaxploitation
without any special appeal, even though
he's a noted specialist in this genre. It's based on a
story by Marks and co-writer Orville H. Hampton. If
looking for a bright spot on a rather dark film,
without much visual style, it can be said that the
film makes good use of its ghetto locale. Its
promotional ads said this about Detroit: "it's the
murder capital of the world--Motortown, where the
honkies are the minority race."
and cash thieves, in masked hoods and white dinner
jackets, burst into the ballroom and steal $400,000
worth of stuff from those attending a festival
celebrating black heroes in history, in Detroit,
that in reality is a fundraiser used to promote the
candidacy of Michigan's first black governor--the
congressman Aubrey Hale Clayton (Rudy Challenger).
Reverend Markham (Scatman Crothers) is
the emcee of the event. The investigating cops are black
Sgt. Jesse Williams (Hari Rhodes) and white Lt. Danny
Bassett (Alex Rocco). The big question is whether the
thieves were white or black. The racially tense
community is waiting to see who did the foul deed, so
they can react along racial lines.
follows is a police procedural film that features a
host of stereotyped pimps, thugs, hookers and racists.
The film never manages to become interesting or does
it promote anything but moral ambiguity, as it tries
to please its targeted black audience with easy laughs
at the expense of whitey.
9000 in the title is police talk for when an officer
is in trouble.
McGee plays a hooker. John Nichols, the real
Detroit police commissioner, plays himself.
The comedy is at a low level, its political awareness is unenlightening and its continual action-packed car, boat and foot chases are too familiar to wow the viewer. But it's energetic and its sleaze does justice to the downtrodden once mighty city. It's no better or worse than most of the blaxploitation films of the time, which is not saying much.
REVIEWED ON 2/18/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ