For Black History Month I'm writing about a blaxploitation film every Thursday in February. First up, Friday Foster.

Pam Grier as Friday Foster in Friday Foster. Shes a Gemini, FYI.
Pam Grier as Friday Foster in Friday Foster. She's a Gemini, FYI. Courtesy of American International Pictures/MGM
By the time Pam Grier played Friday Foster in 1975, she'd already become the leading lady in the blaxploitation genre, starring in films like Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Black Mama, White Mama. Her characters were always smart, courageous, and strong. And definitely sexy. Grier acts with a sort of off-the-cuff nonchalance that makes her characters seem like women you may actually know.

In her last film with American International Pictures (the company behind some of the best films in the blaxploitation genre), Grier plays Friday Foster, a fashion photojournalist sent on an assignment to photograph the Los Angeles arrival of the richest Black man in America, Blake Tarr (Thalmus Rasulala). But Friday gets caught in the crosshairs of an assassination attempt, becoming a target herself. She teams up with a private detective Colt Hawkins (Yaphet Kotto!) to find out who exactly would want to kill Tarr, uncovering a giant conspiracy to murder America's most important Black (mostly male) leaders.

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Friday is notably much less salacious than her other films (though Grier still appears nude in a couple of scenes), but is still a lot of fun to watch, especially if you're a Pam Grier fan and want to see her steal both a hearse and milk truck in the pursuit of bad guys. There are also so many cameos! Eartha Kitt plays a purring fashion designer, Carl Weathers (of Rocky fame) has hardly any lines (!!!) as an assassin hot on Friday's trail; Scatman Crothers briefly pops up as a handsy preacher; Isaac from Loveboat (real name Ted Lange) plays a pimp trying to woo Friday into working for him.

It should be noted that the film was actually based on a comic strip by writer Jim Lawrence and artist Jorge Longerón about the life of a former model-turned-fashion photographer, which ran from 1970 to 1974 on the Chicago Tribune Syndicate. It was one of the first mainstream comic strips that featured a Black main character but ended by the time this movie hit theaters (though it looks like it was revived last year). Longerón's illustrations are wonderful and you can check out a panel or two of it here.

Friday Foster is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video, iTunes, Netflix DVD, and Scarecrow Video.

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