Super Fly ★★★

Curtis Mayfield's soundtrack is one of my favorite albums. I heard it long before I saw this film. Perhaps that made actually watching it seem like an anticlimax. While I can understand why it was controversial in 1972 - no one seems to suffer any real negative consequences for shoveling coke up their nose - it actually seems pretty bland now, a bridge between 1930s Warner Bros. gangster films and '90s gangsta rap. (Mayfield's "Pusherman" is an obvious influence over the latter.) Hundreds of films about criminals pulling off one last job before going straight have been made; this one is distinguished by a bleak recognition that America's racism means Priest (Ron O'Neal) could only live the "American dream" through crime. The casual sexism and homophobia are grating, although par for the course for blaxploitation. But the still photo montage set to "Pusherman" suggests a far more adventurous film.