Film / Shaft

Can you dig it?

They say this cat Shaft is a bad mother—
But I'm talkin' 'bout Shaft.

You's know de dojigger. You's know de movie. You's might even know de remake. But do ya' know Shaft?

Shaft is a 1971 Blaxploitation film, directed by Gordon Parks and written by Ernest Tidyman, based on Tidyman's novel of the same name. It tells the story of an African-American private detective, John Shaft, who travels through Harlem and infiltrates The Mafia in order to find the missing daughter of a black mobster. It stars Richard Roundtree as Shaft, Moses Gunn as Bumpy Jonas, Charles Cioffi as Lt. Vic Androzzi, and Christopher St. John as Ben Buford, along with Gwenn Mitchell and Lawrence Pressman. Isaac Hayes did the theme song quoted above, which has reached Memetic Mutation to the point where it may actually be better known than the movie..

The film was followed by two more movies - only the first of which was based on a Tidyman novel and directed by Parks - along with a series of TV movies, following the further adventures of Shaft during the 1973-74 season on The New CBS Tuesday Night Movies. As the series was being aired on network television, the character of Shaft was toned down a fair amount; for example, he frequently worked with the police, instead of being against them as in the original movie. Due to this Executive Meddling, the series was unpopular, and it was quickly cancelled.

Incidentally, Ernest Tidyman, writer of the original novel series and the first two movies, also wrote The French Connection.

In 2014 a Shaft comic book debuted to strong critical reaction, inspired more by the Tidyman novels and written by David Walker of BadAzz MoFo, a blog about Blaxploitation history. Included in each issue of the first arc, A Complicated Man, was a chapter of Shaft's Revenge, the first new novel about John Shaft since Tidyman's death. A second arc, Imitation Of Life, is in the works.

And we can dig it.

For the anime studio, look no further than Studio SHAFT.

"That cat Shaft shows up in these baaad mutha- / Shut your mouth!":

  • Shaft (1971)
  • Shaft's Big Score (1972)
  • Shaft in Africa (1973)
  • Shaft (2000)

"But I'm troping about Shaft!/And we can dig it":

"Any questions?"

Alternative Title(s): Shaft In Africa