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Shaft's Big Score!

By Marshall Fine

When a pal of detective John Shaft is murdered in a bombing (and $250,000 in cash turns up missing), New York's coolest private eye finds himself caught in the middle of a power struggle between black and white gangsters over the numbers racket in Queens. Directed by Gordon Parks (who does a brief cameo as a croupier in an illegal casino) and written by Ernest Tidyman (both of whom did the original Shaft), this film lacks the pacing of its progenitor. Roundtree is at his best when he's questioning a woman he's just met about a suspect while at the same time beguiling her into the sack (ah, those lazy, crazy days of the sexual revolution). The finale--a shootout in a cemetery, followed by a car-boat-helicopter chase through Queens and up the Harlem River--is preposterously drawn-out: Shaft, impervious to machine-gun fire, winds up tripping, spraining his ankle, and limping while running from the chopper; two shots later, he's sprinting like a halfback. Look for late Muhammad Ali trainer Drew Bundini Brown as a wise-cracking mobster.

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Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Gordon Parks

Stars: Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn, Wally Taylor

Released: June 8, 1972

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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