SHEBA, BABY

SHEBA, BABY 1

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SHEBA, BABY REVIEWED

“Sheba, Baby” is another great William Girdler film shot in Louisville. I love it when movies shoot in my hometown, as it helps document the River City’s changing history. As the film opens, we find that the local mob is shaking down the Shayne Loan Company. Private Eye Shelba Shayne flies back to Louisville, so that she may save her family’s business. For local viewers, seeing that our airport was once so tiny is kinda stunning. Especially seeing it not anchored to the UPS Worldport and other aviation appendages.

But, I’m getting mired in trivia that will only appeal to select readers. Director William Girdler loved Louisville and spent much of his career trying to shoot her. Given the local climate and nature of the films he made, Girdler wasn’t always welcomed as a cinematic hero. In fact, the one film he made locally that people loved…is now all but banned from legit home video via Warner Brothers. It turns out that a studio gets really, really mad if you make a Blaxploitation knock-off of “The Exorcist”. But, why Girdler?

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Girdler wasn’t any different from the AIP guys working in the mid 1970s, as he tackled a number of genres. But, he knew how to work with African American character actors to create crime fiction that worked outside of racial boundaries. There’s nothing new about this film or why Grier exited Blaxploitation on this third and final 1975 Grier headlining film. However, it’s solid pulp dimestore novel crime that would make any Elmore Leonard fan squeal with glee. Regional panache, mob goons, local criminals and gunfights galore. Plus, Sheba beats the hell out of a pimp in a Burger Chef parking lot. For older local fans: the Burger Chef used in the film was on Eastern Parkway.

What I find so special about this film vs. Grier’s work with Jack Hill is that Hill made his movies into star vehicles for Grier. “Sheba, Baby” is Pam Grier’s chance to disappear into a role in a film closer cut to her 1997 comeback in “Jackie Brown”. It’s not about the actress, so much as it is about world building in a familiar sense. I buy the Midwestern cheap feel of the film. Plus, the scenes shot at the 1974 Kentucky State Fair don’t feel out of place. Even knowing that the event is crawling with so many cops and state troopers that a mob goon would be dropped within 60 seconds of brandishing a gun.

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SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Two audio commentaries
  • Brand new interview
  • Pam Grier: The AIP years documentary
  • Trailer Gallery

A/V QUALITY STATS

  • 1.85:1 1080p transfer
  • LPCM Mono

RELEASE DATE: 2/9/16

sheba baby at the KY State Fair

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