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Black Caesars and Foxy Cleopatras: A History of Blaxploitation Cinema (Hardcover)

Black Caesars and Foxy Cleopatras: A History of Blaxploitation Cinema By Odie Henderson Cover Image
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Description


The definitive account of Blaxploitation cinema—the freewheeling, often shameless, and wildly influential genre—from a distinctive voice in film history and criticism
 
In 1971, two films grabbed the movie business, shook it up, and launched a genre that would help define the decade. Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, an independently produced film about a male sex worker who beats up cops and gets away, and Gordon Parks’s Shaft, a studio-financed film with a killer soundtrack, were huge hits, making millions of dollars. Sweetback upended cultural expectations by having its Black rebel win in the end, and Shaft saved MGM from bankruptcy. Not for the last time did Hollywood discover that Black people went to movies too. The Blaxploitation era was born.
 
Written by film critic Odie Henderson, Black Caesars and Foxy Cleopatras is a spirited history of a genre and the movies that he grew up watching, which he loves without irony (but with plenty of self-awareness and humor). Blaxploitation was a major trend, but it was never simple. The films mixed self-empowerment with exploitation, base stereotypes with essential representation that spoke to the lives and fantasies of Black viewers. The time is right for a reappraisal, understanding these films in the context of the time, and exploring their lasting influence.

About the Author


Odie “Odienator” Henderson is the chief film critic of the Boston Globe and runs the blogs Big Media Vandalism and Tales of Odienary Madness. A lover of film noir, musicals, Blaxploitation, bad art, and good trash, Henderson was previously a contributing writer at RogerEbert.com from 2011 to 2022. He has written for Slant Magazine’s The House Next Door blog since 2006. His work has also appeared in The Village Voice, Vulture, Cineaste Magazine, MovieMezzanine, Movies Without Pity, Salon, and The Criterion Collection. He recently finished a long career in IT. He lives in northern New Jersey.

Praise For…


“This exuberant debut from Boston Globe film critic Henderson provides commentary on and social context for 1970s Blaxploitation films . . . a thoughtful and loving ode to the genre.”
 
— Publishers Weekly

“A lively exploration of 1970s Blaxploitation films. Henderson is clearly fond of this era of film, [and] he gives these classic films, their stars (particularly Pam Grier), and the funky soundtracks their due. An enjoyable, funny, and in-depth examination of Blaxploitation films and their influence.”
— Library Journal (Starred Review)

"This is a celebration of an important era in the history of film, and readers will revel in its joyful tribute to blaxploitation’s influential films and their creators."
— Booklist

“Plenty of ink has been spilled and words have been said about the Blaxploitation era, but Black Caesars and Foxy Cleopatras is perhaps the most sweeping (and fun) exploration of the subject yet. Whether he’s discussing stone-cold classics or regrettable trash, Odie Henderson tells it like it is; he approaches these films and their creators with a palpable affection for the genre, without sacrificing his keen critical and analytical sensibilities.”
— Aisha Harris, cohost of NPR’S Pop Culture Happy Hour and author of Wannabe: Reckonings with the Pop Culture That Shapes Me

“A great book on a spectacular era of film history, by a spellbinding and hilarious storyteller.”
— Matt Zoller Seitz, author of The Wes Anderson Collection, Mad Men Carousel, and The Sopranos Sessions

“With his critical recording of Blaxploitation cinema, Odie Henderson champions the moment when Hollywood anointed Black stories as king. A delightful guide to the major heroes and lesser-known creatives who’ve influenced Black culture and cinema for decades, Henderson provides a personal, hilarious, informative, spontaneous, and brazen point of view that stands as a bible for the era.”
— Robert Daniels

"Henderson… meets Blaxploitation where it lives, with respectful irreverence…Henderson has a palpable, unstuffy voice, and a point of view, neither of which keep him from taking his subject seriously and addressing it with authority."
— Boston Globe
Product Details
ISBN: 9781419758416
ISBN-10: 1419758411
Publisher: Abrams Press
Publication Date: February 6th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English