Cleopatra Jones hits Blu-ray on March 19th.
Cleopatra Jones was an early Blaxploitation hit that has fallen off in recent years. It kind of kills me that a movie where Shelley Winters can play a drug kingpin named Mommy is now forgotten by the mainstream. Thankfully, Warner Archive is doing their cultural due diligence and bringing this one back to the forefront.
Tamara Dobson always played as a second-tier substitute for Pam Grier. Dobson had her own style and didn’t get ground into the AIP machine. However, that lack of constant exposure also made it harder to get known. What’s crazy is that I buy Dobson more as an organized bad ass.
In fact, she plays Cleopatra Jones as a female Black Dynamite and less of a femme-focus protagonist. The fact that she’s a woman is secondary to the point of her running the hood. She flashes a badge after she murders bad guys, so she can get away from the cops. Plus, all the street life answers to her when things go wrong.
Shelley Winters steals the show. Winters plays a drug kingpin who basically lives on the opposite end of Cleopatra’s neighborhood. She dispatches the cops to fix problems, but ultimately she only gets Cleopatra’s attention by killing the pimp Doodlebug. That gets Cleopatra heated.
Given that the story was written by the Mack himself, I figured we would get a movie a lot more angrier. However, Max Julien knew what he was doing. He got Warner Brothers onboard in making a hood-centric James Bond style tale about broad villainy that could play to a PG audience.
I hope like Hell that Warner Brothers keeps up the amazing cultural streak by releasing Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. We keep two younger site workers to test certain films out on and the problematic nature of Casino of Gold will make their head spin. Honestly, I just want to see the transfer.
It sucks that Warner Archive couldn’t dig up any special features. However, the 2.40:1 transfer on this disc is second-to-none. Cleopatra Jones finally pops in a way it hasn’t experienced since 1973.
Cleopatra Jones is now available!
Fans can purchase at www.wbshop.com/warnerarchive or online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays® are sold