Sunday, November 3, 2013

Shaft's Big Score! (Ernest Tidyman, 1972)

Begins with Shaft returning home to Brooklyn from his vacation in Jamaica which is a bit odd. I mean, he did visit Caribbeans but that was two years later in Carnival of Killers. But let's not split any hair over this, we don't really expect these pulpy novels to be very consistent, do we?

And this one is as stereotypical as they come. After 10 pages the stage is set - his good friend murdered, leaving behind a hot widow and shitload of hidden money over which two rival gangs (blacks and Italians of course) will fight merciless. And with few horny dames thrown into this pot, there's our hero in the middle of it trying to save his friend's honor and missing cash.

Cops are of course totally disinterested and incompetent. After the initial killing they simply conclude that "this was professional hit and it wasn't the last one". Which I found a bit odd because blowing up the entire building's floor in order to kill a single guy (not even a mobster!) don't seem very professional to me. But again, it's a Shaft novel and we shouldn't try to make much sense of this black and white violent world. It's better to just let it ride and enjoy such little nonsenses. My favorite one was towards the end when just two (?) bad guys are chasing our main man who's btw armed with a shotgun (!) It's obvious that these two suckers are no match for "two hundred pounds of meat and meanness" so why the hell are they chasing him and not the other way around? Maybe because "the lessons of escape were bred into his bones"? Anyways, when they do manage to "corner" him, he simply shoots both of them. The end.

Of course, it's much more about the style than content but still Mr. Tidyman could try a bit harder on the story aspect. It reads more like a screenplay (maybe that's the reason for the aforementioned chase) which can actually be the case here because IMDB doesn't state that movie is based on the book so maybe it was published after the movie came out.

Anyways, fun read with great dialogues, cool slang and some hilarious one-liners. But it does get a bit repetitive and dull towards the end as there's 100+ pages gap between the initial killings and the final bloodbath.



John Shaft, PI - Just under two hundred pounds of meat and meanness ... A man in motion, moving almost as quickly as his mind.

NYC, mostly in Queens where "It is is easier to get a cab than a cop. The cabs either have a better radio system or they are more eager to get the work"

Body count: 9

Arna, the widow. Gail Sharrett, daughter of a mobster kingpin. Rita Towne, mistress of another mobster kingpin. 

The latter one is nymphomaniac (deep pit that could never be filled, a fire that could never be cooled) who fucks Shaft and it's pretty funny fuck too because our main man just cannot satisfy her. So after the intercourse he simply concludes that "If he could have unscrewed his cock he would have given it to her to play with." He also tries to give her some advice to which she simply responds by "Don't talk. Fuck." [Fatale]

Two - on the first occasion he gets knocked off by the explosion, but second one is a more proper because he gets beaten to a pulp.

A bit silly but, on the other hand, well aligned with exploitation genre. Also inaccurate, because I have no idea what Shaft was supposed to score. Rita Towne doesn't really count and he gives recovered money back to Arna so she can establish fund for crippled kids and build a school for them. Also not sure wtf's about that exclamation mark at the end?

My paperback is first UK publication from 1972 and they didn't even bother with some original artwork for the cover. Just used movie poster with Richard Roundtree which is of course totally understandable - you can't get much better advertisement that that.

Cool lines:
"Say goodbye to your fucking empty head," Shaft told him. "I don't need it any more." [The Coolest!]

"Got another back there?" he asked the pudgy stewardess, holding up the plastic glass at her. She smiled the pudgy little smile. Did the pilots have to wind them up before each trip? Could she hold that smile as an engine fell off?"Here you are, sir. Scotch on the rocks." The voice had all the sincerity of a radio commercial for hemorrhoid ointment and the girl would probably smile all the way through a blow job. [The Coolest!]

He could see how nervous Kelly was getting. He was jumping like a broad with a sniff of coke on her clit. [The Coolest!]

Mascola didn't answer. He lay stretched out beside Cal's coffin. The right side of his head was missing. A coroner would say there had been probable brain damage before death. [The Coolest!]

"My car or yours?" Gail Sherrett asked coldly as they waited for the elevator.
"Mine's yellow," Shaft said, "with a build-in meter."

No comments:

Post a Comment