Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why I think Pam Grier is so appealing.

What really separates Pam Grier from all the other women of her generation? The '70s had no shortage of buxom women who were willing to disrobe on film. She was not in big-budget movies. What exactly is her appeal? I imagine several things come into play, but boil down to one thing—she had no equal.

Today we have numerous female action stars and professional athletes. It was different for Pam's generation. In the commentary on the Coffy and Foxy Brown DVDs writer/director Jack Hill discusses how difficult casting and performing action scenes could be. Not only could he find few actresses who could match Grier physically, he could find few who could perform physically at all. Both Coffy and Foxy Brown had fight scenes that took some arrangement to pull off. In Coffy, Grier was to fight a woman named Harriet (Dea St. Lamont)—a massive woman who dwarfed Grier. Unfortunately she was not athletic enough to do a fight scene, so Hill made it a comedy scene by having Grier run away from her as she threw items and swore. In Foxy Brown, Claudia (Juanita Brown) finds herself in a lesbian bar, and Pam has to fight their way out. The idea for the lesbian bar came in part because they could use female stunt women for the fight scene without having to glam them up.

Grier's combination of physicality and sex appeal were only matched by Tura Satana, but where Satana hitched her wagon to Ted V. Mikkels, Grier found herself with Roger Corman and the blaxploitation movement. Grier also excelled at not just being a hard ass, but also capable of sensuality and comedy. Her smarts aided things as well, as Jack Hill mentions that many of the improvised weapons Coffy and Foxy use are from Grier's suggestions. Also, if it was just tits, ass, and beat-downs that we loved, we wouldn't enjoy her in Jackie Brown, Escape from LA, or Fort Apache the Bronx as much as we do.


Keith said...

Great writeup on what makes Pam still so special. She was definitely beautify and sexy. She also had a great sense of humor. She was tough. She could handle the physical action quite well. She could do it all. That made her so different from many of the other actresses out in the 70's.

Tenebrous Kate said...

I think your comparison of the divine Ms. Grier with the equally-divine Tura Satana is spot on. Those ladies shared a special larger-than-life quality that has as much to do with their strength of character as it does with their physical qualities.

Whenever Pam Grier is on screen, she's just captivating--a true original and, if I dare say it, even a role model!

Great post, Darius!

Mr. Canacorn said...

Don't fret about not keeping up, DW! If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't even be rejoicing in all things Pam!

If you only posted Back To Work (the funky edition) your job would have been done! :)