Ron O'Neal in the smart, streetwise box office success about a pusher who tries to make one last killer deal before kicking the business. Featuring a hit Curtis Mayfield score. Year: 1972 Director: Gordon Parks, Jr. S... more »tarring: Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, Julius W. Harris« less
"Superfly (1972) is a tough, unpolished gem rising above the numerous films to come from the blaxploitation period of the early 70's. While some are critical of the message they believe posed within the film, one of glamorizing the image of the drug dealer, I didn't really see it that way at all. I think this image presented was a superficial one, and one that the main character within the film saw and understood, prompting his actions and decisions to try and escape the life.
Ron O'Neal, who recently passed away on January 14, 2004, plays Priest, a streetwise pusher in a dilemma. Seems he is tired of the hustle, and is looking for a way to get out of the game, but, as his partner Eddie (Carl Lee) puts it, "Look, I know it's a rotten game, but it's the only one The Man left us to play." Apparently Priest has thought long about this, and he has come up with a plan to score a lot of cash in a short amount of time, and then plans to retire. Sounds like a plan, but Priest soon encounters powerful forces that feel he is worth more to them on the streets, pushing junk, doing what he does best. While the film does appear to glamorize the lifestyle of the drug peddler, I truly believe the underlying message was than despite all Priests' success, he was languishing in a form of slavery, always working for someone else and taking all the risks involved in such a trade. In a way he realized this, but found it difficult to leave the life, as that was all he knew, and working for 'chump change' was not in his future.
Gordon Parks, Jr. direction may seem amateurish with jerky camera shots and such, but it fit in nicely with the nature of the material within the film, giving a raw, harsh look into the seedy side of life, much like Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973). One of the things that really sets this film apart from the other movies of the time was the soundtrack by the legendary Curtis Mayfield. With such funkified songs as Pusherman, Freddie's Dead, and Superfly, Mayfield's contributions to the film served to elevate it above many films within the genre, and solidify his career as a musical genius. O'Neal is great as Priest (love those outta sight mutton chops), and is supported by some really decent performances by the lovely Sheila Frazier, Julius Harris, who many may recognize from the James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973), and Charles McGregor, who also appearing in Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles (1974).
There are a good amount of special features on this disc including a brand new documentary called `One Last Deal: A Retrospective', a commentary track by Dr. Todd Boyd, a USC professor of television and cinema and author of "Am I Black Enough for You: Popular Culture from the 'Hood and Beyond", a early featurette with Ron O'Neal, a `making of ` documentary with O'Neal, `Behind the Threads' featurette with costumer designer Nate Adams where he shows off some of the original costumes from the film, and an audio only track with Mayfield's music. Also, I really liked some of the small touches within the interactive menu. For instance, instead of a listing for `Scene Selection', it's titled `Makin' the Scene', the `Special Features' selection is titled `Fly Features', and the subtitles section is labeled `Jive Talk'. A very nice and well-developed release by Warner Brothers, although I still am annoyed that they use the cheap plastic and cardboard packaging. When will they learn...
Superfly is the Bomb X 2!
Kabria A. Cummings | Chicago, IL United States | 12/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Superfly, starring Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, and Sheila Frazier is one of the greatest films ever made in the 70's Black film genre. It is a ghetto drama set to the music of the late great Curtis Mayfield - an excellent soundtrack that brilliantly narrates the film and compells you to contemplate the ins & outs of innercity blues; the challenges Vs. Options or lack thereof. This movie is hitting from beginning to end and though often dismissed as blaxploitation, it's strong messages of changing ones predicament, allows it to escape this criticism. Ron O'Neal portrays a drug dealer by the name of Priest with the baddest vines, cars, and plenty of women. He decides that there is more to life than this. With the help of his main squeeze Georgie,he stages one last score to get out of the game despite strong opposition from his partner and other shady individuals that rely on his thriving drug business. Will he make it out? Buy the film and see for yourself! I own a copy on VHS but I'm hoping and praying that Warner Bros. will stop sleeping on this gem and release it on DVD!"
"I know it's a rotten game, it's the only game 'The Man' lef
Jenks | Chicago, IL | 05/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was born in the 70's but it was only recently (a couple of days ago) that I saw the film Superfly. A film about a drug dealer who wants to retire from the cocaine business because he sees its fatalism. I guess I must have bought into the negativity of those who condemned the film for its perceived glorification of street life. In reality, I didn't even know what the film was about, I simply discounted it as just another blaxploitation that would be filled with over the top characters and bad acting. But Superfly was none of what I expected. It's social commentary speaks to the hopelessness of such a life style and if anything offers an anti-drug message. It also speaks to what society tells us to revere-money, homes, cars-the American Dream. Unfortunately, people could not see beyond the flashy clothes and the melodic musical score, which serves as the narrator, and controversy to capture the real message of the film. It is also unfortunate that the late Ron O'Neal's mesmerizing and brilliant performance as Priest was somewhat overshadowed by the film's controversy-namely, a drug dealer as hero. Ron O'Neal was a victim of what happens to most actors who have monumental success on a film-oftentimes they are typecast and then resigned to film and television roles that are beneath their talent and ability-it happens to the best of actors and the worst. Had he been an actor just starting out in present times, with his exotic, smoldering good looks and immense talent and intensity, he would have become world renown and Oscar nominated and perhaps an Oscar winner. He was definitely underrated and a man ahead of his time.
Although obviously low budget, Superfly IS a very good film. Curtis Mayfield's haunting soundtrack coupled with Ron O'Neal's hypnotic performance definitely makes this a must see film. And although it is included in the blaxploitation genre, Superfly is a film that deserves to stand on its own. "
Unconscionable Act by Warner Bros.
BLEEKER | 02/25/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Superfly is widely recognized as being arguably the best film of its genre, and having one of, if not the greatest, film soundtracks of all time -- and yet, Warner Bros., in an act of irreverence, finally releases Superfly on DVD using inferior, cartoonish, cardboard packaging and, worse yet, the soundtrack is not even in HIFI SOUND!!! This is beyond my comprehension that Curtis Mayfield's great musical work, clearly worthy of an Academy Award, should be undervalued and demeaned in this manner. I do not recommend buying the DVD not because of the film, which I love, but because of the unconscionable treatment of the film's release on DVD by Warner Bros."
BLEEKER | NYC | 04/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently decided to buy it having never seen the movie. Although I heard all about it. I have to say this one of the BEST dvds I own! It's down and dirty, big attitude flick that just exudes style. This film has it all... pimps, hustlers, big cars, fedoras, fur coats, nude women, and dont forget the music! The soundtrack is a perfect fit. I love the authentic feel of the whole thing. The film grain and the mono soundtrack help to establish that. The commetary is right on the money as well. The other extras are nice too. GET THIS!"