Pam Grier Still Foxy at 63
JACKIE BROWN (1997) / SPECIAL SHOWING (Denver Film Society, August 9, 2012) To kick off this year’s Denver SummerFest–a weekend of events organized by The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force–our local film society offered Quentin Tarantino’s kick-ass cinematic love letter to Pam Grier, complete with an appearance by Grier herself! Wow…this was clearly a not-to-be-missed event and it even included tributes to Grier from three sexy “show-girls,” at least one of whom sported a gorgeous afro. Perfect. Grier spent her high school days in Denver and is a graduate of East High, one of Denver’s leading public high schools. Of note, another famous East High grad is Don Cheadle.
In the Q&A leading up to the film, Grier talked about her tough up-bringing, featured in her 2010 book entitled ”Foxy: My Life in Three Acts” which is about to become a feature film (some scenes are to be shot locally and Pam encouraged all of us in the audience to turn out for bit parts!). Grier became famous in the early 1970s, starring in a string of moderately successful women’s prison and blaxploitation films including the infamous 1974 Foxy Brown. Tarantino sought her out specifically for the title role in Jackie Brown; he developed the screenplay from Elmore Leonard‘s Rum Punch to fit Grier (the character was a blond in the book). The movie was Tarantino’s eagerly-awaited follow-up to Pulp Fiction (1974). He cast Samuel L. Jackson again, this time as Ordell Robbie, the bad ass gun runner in the piece alongside Robert Forster as Max Cherry, a bail bondsman; Robert DeNiro as the dim-witted Louis Gara, just out of the joint and hanging with Ordell; Bridget Fonda as Melanie, Ordell’s blonde chick; and Michael Keaton in his first performance of FBI/DEA agent Ray Nicolette. BTW: Keaton as Nicolette can also be seen in Steven Soderbergh‘s Out of Sight (George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez) which is also based on an Elmore Leonard novel. Jackie Brown was relatively well received when it came out, with both Grier and Jackson nominated for a Golden Globe. Grier was also nominated for a SAG award as well as a Satellite Award for her performance in the film. I’ve always loved the film–the storyline and dialog are fabulous– and despite a relatively low-quality print at last night’s showing, the movie still delivered. Tarantino once called Grier the “first female action star.” How true. Keep it up, Pam!
Kudos to the Denver Film Society and all concerned.
Grade for Jackie Brown and Pam Grier: Big-ass A