Super Fly at Stax 

"I'm your doctor, when in need/Want some coke, have some weed/You know me, I'm your friend/Your main boy, thick and thin/I'm your pusherman" — Curtis Mayfield, "Pusherman"

In the blaxploitation documentary, One Last Deal, House Party producer Warrington Hudlin wonders aloud if the movie title Super Fly is a noun or an adjective. If the word "fly" represents some kind of heightened achievement, he decides, "super fly," must be that same kind of achievement exponentially rarified. However you define it, Gordon Parks Jr.'s 1972 crime drama Super Fly was some kind of rarified achievement, setting trends in fashion and filmmaking, while attracting its share of critics.

click to enlarge werecbox_superfly.jpg

In 1971, Melvin Van Peebles' indie crime drama Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song cracked the door on black independent filmmaking in America. No sooner was that door open than movies like Shaft and Super Fly came hustling through, challenging industry norms. And like Shaft, with its iconic soundtrack by Isaac Hayes, Super Fly's success was driven in no small part by Curtis Mayfield's socially conscious, hook-laden score. Packed with hits like "Pusherman" and "Freddy's Dead," it doubled as a rough-and-tumble autobiography about growing up poor on the tough streets of Chicago, where opportunity was scarce.

Super Fly was criticized for glamorizing the lives of gangsters and coke dealers, even the ones looking to get out. From the film's famously customized Cadillac Eldorado (not unlike Isaac Hayes' own "solid gold" ride) to a wardrobe often provided by actors who were asked to wear their own clothes, Parks' film helped to shape the look of the 1970s and set the tone for future conversations about race, media, and industry.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Tags:

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Solo: A Star Wars Story

We Saw You

Welcome, Dale Watson! And more!

Hungry Memphis

Porcellino's to Move

Fly On The Wall Blog

Dammit Gannett and other Media Follies — Long Weekend Roundup!!!

Intermission Impossible

mömandpöp rock the Memphis Children's Theatre Festival

News Blog

Airport Fires Back at New York Times Story

Politics Beat Blog

Bredesen's Modest Bio, Common Touch Score with Local Democrats

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation