Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Black Hooker (1974)



Also known as Street Sisters, this abysmal drama was written and directed by a gentleman named Arthur Roberson, who apparently adapted the material from his own play. There’s a good reason this project represents the entirety of Roberson’s cinematic output, because Black Hooker manages to be confusing, pretentious, sleazy, and unintentionally funny all at once. Set during the Depression, the convoluted story revolves around a character known as “Painted Woman” (Sandra Alexander), who leaves her impoverished family’s home to become a prostitute. After getting knocked up by a white client, Painted Woman dumps her kid, Young Boy (Teddy Quinn), with her parents—saintly matriarch Grandma (Kathryn Jackson) and strident preacher Grandpa (Jeff Burton). Extended flash-forwards to Young Boy’s early adulthood make very little sense because Painted Woman looks exactly the same in both timeframes. The movie’s befuddling narrative includes such gruesome events as Grandpa’s rape/seduction of his grandson’s hot girlfriend and a murder scene laced with incestuous implications. Somehow, there’s also room for musical numbers and a quasi-surrealistic graveyard scene presented in sepia tone. Compounding clarity problems stemming from incompetent storytelling and terrible acting, the film’s soundtrack is a mess, with lots of re-recorded dialogue slapped into scenes that were shot without on-camera speech. There’s a vague connection between this horrendous movie and the historically important silent films of pioneering black director Oscar Micheaux (especially 1920’s Within Our Gates), but while Micheaux’s rickety dramaturgy is forgivable in light of his incendiary political content, Roberson’s picture is merely a disaster with a misguided sense of purpose. Exacerbating the ignominious nature of this enterprise, the tile Black Hooker—and a hilariously deceptive marketing campaign exemplified by the above poster—were slapped onto the movie as a means of piggybacking on the success of blaxploitation, even though Black Hooker is not in the least a blaxploitation picture.

Black Hooker: SQUARE

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