Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Get Christie Love! (1974)



          Perhaps because the fun of the blaxploitation genre was so intertwined with R-rated nastiness—drugs, pimps, violence, vulgarity—none of the various attempts to created blaxploitation-themed TV series met with much success. For instance, Richard Roundtree reprised his big-screen role as private dick John Shaft for a string of toothless TV movies airing in 1973 and 1974, and singer/actress Teresa Graves starred in Get Christie Love!, an hour-long drama that ran for one season from 1974 to 1975. The mildly entertaining pilot movie for Get Christie Love! shares little in common with theatrical blaxploitation flicks except for an African-American leading actress and an urban-crime milieu. Adapted from a novel by Dorothy Uhnak, the 74-minute feature introduces viewers to Christie Love, a funny, self-confident, and sexy plainclothes detective who works narcotics and vice. Christie spends most of the movie investigating the life of Helena Varga (Louise Sorel), the girlfriend of a high-powered gangster, because an informant’s tip leads police to believe that Helena possesses an incriminating ledger. Even though Get Christie Love! opens with scenes that are suitable for a Pam Grier movie—cops witness the murder of their informant, Christie goes undercover as a prostitute to catch a serial killer—the movie quickly loses its edge.
          As portrayed by the wholesomely pretty Graves, Christie is one-third ass-kicker, one-third bloodhound, and one-third therapist, digging though Helena’s past to find leverage with which she can persuade Helena to help the authorities. The movie includes a few quasi-exciting showdowns, like the bit when Christie judo-throws an assailant off the high balcony of a hotel, but for the most part she gets what she wants via painstaking investigation instead of seducing gullible men or strong-arming beefy goons. In other words, Get Christie Love! ain’t Foxy Brown: The Series by a damn sight. Graves has a pleasant touch for light comedy (no surprise, since she was briefly a regular on Laugh-In), and costar Harry Guardino does what he can with the stock role of an exasperated supervisor. As the pilot for a standard-issue ’70s cop show, Get Christie Love! is harmless enough, and it provides a minor historical footnote because Graves was the first black woman to play the lead on a network drama. (She followed in the footsteps of Diahann Carroll, who broke the sitcom barrier with the 1968 debut of Julia.) As an example of the blaxploitation genre, however, Get Christie Love! is laughably tame.

Get Christie Love!: FUNKY

3 comments:

William Blake Hall said...

I remember this! The climax of the ads was Christie declaring "You're under arrest, sugar!"

By Peter Hanson said...

That apparently became her catchphrase throughout the series. One could do worse as far as one-liners go.

Hal Horn said...

About halfway through the series while writing up an episode guide for my blog. She usually called someone "Sugar" a few times per show, but "you're under arrest, Sugar" was generally used only during the opening credits. The series is even tamer than the pilot telefilm (due to Graves' insistence--the star was baptized after the movie but before the series) but there are a few episodes with a little more bite than you'd expect. Might have had even more of a bite if Guardino had returned for the series.