This Blaxploitation classic merits a viewing on at least two bases: one, you've got none other than Gordon of 'Sesame Street', a.k.a. actor Roscoe Orman, playing a pimp, and two, you have to love these COSTUMES! "Willie Dynamite" (Orman) is a capitalism-oriented flesh peddler with a wardrobe to die for. But he'll have a few thorns in his side: a pair of detectives (George Murdock, Albert Hall) out to righteously bust him, a mysterious enemy determined to screw him over, and a crusading social worker named Cora (Diana Sands), who acts as a patron saint to hookers.
Directed with style by Gilbert Moses, "Willie Dynamite" is generally engaging entertainment. Some viewers may be pleased to note that, although the rating is R, there's no excessive violence, and very little in the way of bare female skin. That doesn't mean, however, that it's not worth other peoples' time. It spins a decent yarn (screenplay by Ron Cutler, based on a story by Cutler and Joe Keyes Jr.) that unfolds at a respectable pace, gives us some agreeable action set pieces, and makes fine use of locations. There's a wonderful score provided by J.J. Johnson, and a rousing title theme song that gets you in the proper mood immediately.
Orman is great fun playing a charismatic antihero. The scenario lets you wait until the end to let you know whether or not Willie D. can be redeemed, leading to some poignant moments. Sands, sadly dying of cancer during this time, gives the best performance in the movie. Thalmus Rasulala is saddled with little to do as her attorney boyfriend. Similarly, there are other familiar faces here that are rather wasted. Judith Brown, Juanita Brown, Marcia McBroom, and Mary Charlotte Wilcox as some of Willie D.'s hookers mostly just take up space. The pretty Joyce Walker gets the lions' share of attention as novice ho Pashen. Roger Robinson, as an antagonistic pimp named Bell, is most amusing, but there may be viewers who will take offense to his stereotypical portrayal of a gay character.
"Willie Dynamite" is lively, funny, and sometimes touching. Blaxploitation completists will want to check it out, for sure.
Seven out of 10.
Crime / Drama
Crime / Drama
A social worker tries to get a pimp to change his ways.
April 28, 2023 at 07:09 PM
1 hr 42 min