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Friday Foster (Blu-ray Review)

Friday-Foster“Wham! Bam! Here Comes Pam” and with that Pam Grier is back in action as Friday Foster.  Based on the syndicated newspaper comic strip of the same name, Grier stars as intrepid photojournalist Friday Foster.  Directed by Arthur Marks (Class of ’74, Detroit 9000), based on his story, Friday Foster features supporting performances by Godfrey Cambridge (Watermelon Man, Cotton Comes To Harlem), Eartha Kitt (Boomerang, The Emperor’s New Groove), Carl Weathers (Rocky, Predator), Scatman Crothers (The Shining), Ted Lange (TV’s The Love Boat), Jim Backus (TV’s Gilligan’s Island, Mister Magoo).   It was an adaptation of the 1970-74 eponymous syndicated newspaper comic strip, scripted by Jim Lawrence and illustrated by Jorge Longarón and Gray Morrow. This was Grier’s final film with American International Pictures.

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Film 

No sooner has she been warned by her boss that her personal involvement in the stories she’s shooting will not end happily, Friday witnesses the attempted assassination of a prominent African-American figure and the murder of a friend.  Why is Friday the target on the hit list? What does she know? Teaming with private detective Colt Hawkins, the search for answers will lead them to a startling and action-packed finale.
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As mentioned above, this film was Pam’s last for American International Pictures.  However, 1975 was one heck of a sendoff.  She did three films that year.  They were Sheba, Baby, Bucktown (I LOVE Bucktown, by the way) and Friday Foster.  Bucktown was more of a “team up” film with her male equivalent rising Blaxploitation star Fred Williamson and Sheba, Baby/Friday Foster were the sorta follow ups (or continued adventures in the action film field) to Coffy and Foxy Brown.  But they were her first solo action ventures without Jack Hill at the helm.
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In comparison to the two superior films that broke her out, Friday Foster has a less action Pam and more of a damsel one.  Her heroics she’s given are more in a reactionary role than being on the offensive.  When it comes to the shootouts and fist fights, it caters more to the male stars of the film while Pam sits sort of by and helps or assists where there is an opening.  While I think that lines up as a sort of disappointment for what you’d expect from a 1970s Pam Grier film, I think the character of Friday Foster is actually more true to itself by not being a complete physical attacking badass.
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What this does give us is a more enriched character in the sense of intelligence.  Here we get a sort of gumshoe/private eye role for Pam Grier, where she is using her wits, charm and intelligence to solve the mystery.  She also takes full advantage of her power of seduction to learn more about the suspects and events.  This approach both does and doesn’t work, as it does have some pacing issues that make it start to drag during the film’s second act.  But, I’m never sure if its the film or if its because I’ve watched this film following Coffy and Foxy Brown (Which seems to have always happened).
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One item this film has that does hold it up to those two is the music and theme song.  I absolutely love this title song and will have it stuck in my head for days after watching the film.  As for the film itself, I think its a step up from Sheba, Baby but much more below the breakout entries.  A lot of that should probably go to Jack Hill and Pam Grier’s collaboration being very strong.  Pam can easily carry a film by herself, but there’s a sort of magic the two had when working together.  That said, Friday Foster is still an entertaining mystery, more star filled with bigger cinematography than previous efforts, its just on the better side of average.  Definitely one I like.
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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  Of the three Pam Grier films, this one might have the most clean or modern look to it.  Its got a really good print that doesn’t look very dated.  There’s even a shot in the movie that probably is now readily apparent that its out of focus.  Detail is pretty high on clothing, surfaces and the like.  Switchblades and metal on guns even pick up some smudges and scratches.

Depth:  Its not going to wow anyone, but this one looks pretty nice.  Actors and objects look open and free in there environments and movement is smooth as can be.

Black Levels: Blacks are likely accurate to the filming.  Some scenes in the night swallow up some detail, but its likely do to poorly lit moments.

Color Reproduction:  Colors looks pretty good and stand out when they’re allowed to shine.  Greens look really nice and feature a nice variety of tints throughout the film.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and, aside from scenes that fade into one another, consistent.  Detail is very high on facial features like scars from acne, wrinkles, make up lines and stubble.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some grain and minimal spec/dirt/scratches.  Early on there’s a couple compression/blocking issues that are light enough that the casual viewer probably won’t pick up on them.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  The audio quality on here is quite good.  During some of the big action scenes, things get a bit overlapping, but still manage to come out well.  Sound effects are distinct.  There is a nice loose quality between vocals, scoring and effects in the not so busy scenes.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clean and loud.  A few flat moments and some that sound analog, but that could likely be from the source material.

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Extras 

Friday Foster contains no supplemental features.  Menu offers “Play Movie” and “Chapters”.

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Summary 

Friday Foster is indeed no Coffy or Foxy Brown, that is an easy assessment.  But its also not bad either and brings some good elements of its own to the table.  I’m ecstatic that it made the jump to Blu-ray as I figured that if Coffy and Foxy were barely making the jump then Friday and others would be left in the dust.  This now gives me real hope that we can round out some more of Pam’s good 70s efforts to Blu-ray now.  Olive Films releases this with some good audio and video.  Extras are to be desired, but I have this movie on Blu-ray, so I’m content with that fact for now.  If you want some more ideas, Olive Films, contact me, I can give you a solid list of what I’d like to see!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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