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A film that influenced a generation.
lambiepie-228 October 2003
Let me put in my two cents about this film.

If you weren't around when this film was're going to miss much when writing a review. Let me try to help:

This film IS about an urban drug dealer that "sticks it to the man". This was NOT a known concept of that time which is why it attracted so many movie goers. What was ALSO interesting was the casting of the light skinned, straight haired actor Ron O'Neal as "Superfly" to "stick it to the man". "The Man", usually white in these films, formatically had to brace the rath of very dark skinned blacks. But here was something... different! "The Man", was really "The Law Establishment". And was "Superfly"...urban? New Concepts of the time.

Another thing: Curtis Mayfield HATED the theme of this movie. He was going to turn down writing the soundtrack when he thought it may be better to counteract this theme by writing POSITIVE messages for the audience to hear. Before "Saturday Night Fever", Curtis Mayfield wrote the ground breaking music to "Superfly". This made the film even more popular.

This was a low budget film released at the very beginning of the black film experience, and was meant to be the opposite of "Shaft" not a parellel to it. But based on the success of Shaft, Warner Bro's needed a project to enter in this arena and greenlighted "Superfly".

This film began a M-A-J-O-R fashion trend that was hard to overcome (only the Disco era of the late 70's knocked this one out.)

And that is "Superfly" in a nutshell.

"Priest", played by Ron O'Neal was 'supercool', he was slick, he had a nice existence, he was a drug dealer that you DIDN'T know was one -- not by outward appearances anyway...that didn't get his come-uppence at the end of the film, he GAVE it.

It is amazing what an impact "Superfly" had on the culture of that time. In looking at it now, it may look cheap, but it IS a timecapsule of fashion, of music and of breaking a movie taboo that all drug dealers are lowlifes and must be killed in the end.

About that fashion: This began the trend of white surban-ites dressing like pimps trying to be cool. Little white kids were wearing "maxi" coats with "Superfly" hats to Jr. High School and High School!!! Dancers were wearing platform shoes, etc., on American Bandstand!!! You think Hip-Hop did it? Where have you BEEN!!!

"Superfly" is one of the rare films that you must experience beyond judging it on how good or bad it is to watch...Rent this film to see how a film can INFLUENCE a culture.
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Not just a great blaxploitation movie, a great movie period.
Infofreak5 December 2002
'Superfly' is the best movie of the short-lived 1970s blaxploitation boom which gave the world the better known, but less substantial 'Shaft'. The 'Shaft' series are incredibly entertaining movies, no argument there, but most of the films from this period starring Richard Roundtree, Fred Williamson, Jim Kelly,et al are essentially action movies which feature "a black Dirty Harry", "a black Bruce Lee", "a black Philip Marlowe" or even "a black James Bond". In other words they are genre action thrillers with black protagonists. 'Superfly' is very different from most of those movies because Ron O'Neal plays Priest, who isn't a private eye or a "righteous dude" but a DRUG DEALER. And while Priest is tired of "the life" and wants to retire the movie doesn't feature any knee-jerk anti-drug stance or moralizing. This meant that many in the black community at the time detested it and what they perceived as being the glamorization of drugs and drug dealing. All these years later, in an era that is in many ways even more conservative (or at least more hypocritical!), this is what gives the movie a genuine edge, especially when what is on the screen is given a musical debate by Curtis Mayfield's superb score, one of the greatest of all time. O'Neal is charismatic and super cool and displays some genuine acting talent. Which makes it such a shame that his career quickly went down the toilet with little more than small supporting roles in 80s garbage like 'Red Dawn' and 'Hero and the Terror'. O'Neal is supported by an excellent cast of mainly obscure actors such as the late Carl Lee and Charles MacGregor ('Blazing Saddles') as Fat Freddy. The best known face is veteran Julius Harris ('Live And Let Die') who has a pivotal role as Priest's former mentor Scatter. Director Gordon Parks Jr. went on to make 'Three The Hard Way' starring Fred Williamson and Jims Brown and Kelly, but never fulfilled the his potential before being cut down in a plane crash in the late 70s. What a pity. At least he left us with 'Superfly', which is not just a great blaxploitation movie, but a great movie period. Highly recommended to all fans of gritty 70s crime movies.
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Seventies classic that only happens to be blaxploitation
chaos-rampant30 October 2008
Ron Earl is the Priest, independent Harlem coke dealer who is out for the big deal, one last push before he's out of there and out of the street. He also happens to be the protagonist and the one character we're called to empathize with and if that pose a problem for some, it's a directorial choice I applaud even only for its disregard of PC norm. In a genre populated for the most part by cops, private dicks and other manifestations of the law, having a drug dealer kicking ass and not in the name of some higher value, without him renouncing his past or seeing the error of his ways and becoming goodie two-shoes in a last minute, flimsy attempt to redeem the movie in the eyes of moral censors, without being heavy-handed or trashy is certainly admirable. Those that enjoy taking the moral high ground against the movie they're watching will find plenty of ground here to do so. I don't. I might oppose a movie on a political level but only when it tries to make a political statement out of it and Superfly sure as hell doesn't, at least not beyond what genre conventions might dictate (i.e. whitey is bad). The Priest however renounces the hypocrisy of "Black Nation" scumballs going around asking him for money just as much as he rails against the "redneck faggot" captain who doubletimes as the local drug lord.

So if Super Fly is so good, it's because The Priest's desire comes across so transparent, strong and clear. Get off the street. A home, a vine, his woman, that's all he wants out of life now, despite (or perhaps because of) him being a societal leech feeding off people's addiction. Dealing drugs is just a job for him, a means to an end. His partner Eddie rambles on at one point early in the movie about how "it's all whitey left them to do" on which I call shenanigans; that way of thinking is never further expounded upon in relation to the Priest's goal and Eddie in the end proves himself to be a backstabbing, greedy son of a bitch. I think the best way to sketch out The Priest's character is by using Lee Marvin's words when he was asked what it felt like to have played so many bad guys in his life: "My characters weren't bad. They were just trying to get through the day". That's pretty much the wavelength Super Fly channels its protagonist through. Neither condemnation, nor approval, it's just the way it is.

Super Fly is so damn good however, not just because its drug dealer protagonist comes across as genuine and sympathetic, but more so because it never allows itself to be drawn to the sillier end of blaxploitation. No 'mack daddy' sleazy pimpin' fabulousness here, the movie is constantly rooted in reality, taking itself serious before asking the viewer to do the same, but also groovy and funky as only blaxploitation flicks can be. A big part of that distinct seventies charm is due to Curtis Mayfield's stupendous score, playing over most of the film, but also the seedy back-alleys and rundown neighborhoods of then contemporary Harlem, the grime almost reaching across the screen.

Grade A blaxpoitation then, but also a smokin' hot crime flick with characterization that is better than most, good pace, all-around good acting, booty-shaking' music, afros and a few punches thrown in for good measure, Super Fly is among the best of its kind. Strongly recommended.
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Interesting and realistic perspective
thomaswatchesfilms14 July 2004
This gritty, low budget film offers a unique and honest perspective on the underworld of black street life in the early 1970s, with an almost tragic, Shakepearian, bent. The look, the feel and language of the culture and the almost real-time look street life in NYC of that era is truly unmatched by any film before or since. Perhaps through genius, inspiration, maybe just plain luck, or all three, the producers and director hit the nail right on the head. Starring an excellent, intelligent cast of professional thespians, some with impressive stage and film credentials, and augmented by a wonderful infusion of genuine non-professionals right from the street in key roles, the film has an honesty and gritty reality that belies its budgetary constraints. Filmed largely without the permission of local authorities and unions, in winter and often after dark, it has a cinema verite feel throughout; almost a documentary. And the score! Composed and performed by Curtis Mayfield, it is as close to an utter classic as has ever been offered. It stands alone, and would have been a multi-platinum offering even without the film. If one takes the inherent flaws to this type of production; i.e. the rough editing, slightly uneven performances and almost clandestine feel, and places these in proper perspective, it is sure to delight all but the most hardened and jaded enthusiasts of film. Notable: this film set THE STYLE for black, urban culture for most of the next decade. It has no current rivals in that accomplishment. After this film, simply everything since has been empty posturing vis-a-vis popular rap music. It was "remade" during the mid 1990s and set in Miami as "Big Ballers", which was utterly horrible. Compare the two and you will see what style counts for. This film is the real deal. I spent money I didn't have to get this DVD. Go buy it, trust me.
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raysond19 September 2004
This was Director Gordon Parks'Jr. follow-up to one of the most successful and also one of the top five highest grossing pictures of 1971,the straight in-your face blaxploitation crime-drama,"Shaft",starring Richard Roundtree. This time around,he goes for the exploitation genre a bit further and this time it comes up a bona fide winner. Say what you want about this film,but when it first came out in the summer of 1972,the film became one of the top ten highest grossing pictures of that year. SUPER FLY was a major classic that was a huge success,and established Gordon Parks to make a second film for Warner Bors. Pictures,because he made history three years earlier as one of the first African-Americans to get financing for his first feature for the Warner Bors. studio,the 1969 autobiographical drama "The Learning Tree". However,SUPER FLY made a fortune for Warner Bors.,since the studio was about to jump on board the blaxploitation genre,and opened the doors for several movies to be produced for the studio,which including the following year the comedies,"Uptown Saturday Night",and the blaxploitation crime-dramas,"Cleopatra Jones",the sequel,"Casino Of Gold","Black Sampson","Black Cobra",and the classic martial-arts adventure/blaxploitation flick "Enter The Dragon". SUPER FLY was a slick urban romp had an appeal to its adult audiences,but because of the content of the film and its usage of drug abuse and drug substance together with the over count of its violent content,made it one of the most controversial movie ever made,and even for the year 1972,it was describe by some to be very intense with its subject matter and explicit language and some nudity. This was in fact shot on an low-budget theme that was released at the beginning of the blaxploitation/Black Cinema experience and it came out at a time when the Black Cinema movement exploded after the huge success of SHAFT and SWEET SWEETBACK. The main character here is Priest(played with absolute perfection by Ron O'Neal),who wants out of the drug business,but wants to make one last score before he calls it quits. Along the way,he is hassled by the cops,former associates and not to mention those who want to settle a score with him,but in all he gets back at them towards the end,but here the film delivers a powerful message here:the emptiness of the American dream. Priest may want to be out of the business,not because he hates them,but dealing with the endless hassle to sell anything illegal,and from that he just trying to make the best of what he has here,not just by selling but by any means necessary to survive. This is one hard edged gritty crime drama that tells it like it is with no holds-barred punches and straight to the point. A real honest look at the effect and ultimate destruction of drugs and the life of the drug dealer up close and personal. With an supporting cast that includes Shelia Frazier as Priest's girlfriend,Georgia,along with Julius Harris, the late Carl Lee,and Charles McGregor,with a brilliant screenplay by Phillip Fenty and music by Curtis Mayfield,whose brilliant soundtrack to this film was Grammy Nominated in 1972 for Best Soundtrack Album and Best R&B Album of that year...whose songs on this soundtrack for this film are standard classics these days,but as for the movie itself,its a piece of Black Cinema not to be missed. Rating:**** out of *****
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Look, I know it's a rotten game, but it's the only one The Man left us to play.
lastliberal14 November 2010
Long "Maxi" coats and "Superfly" hats with platform shoes: yes, I was one who jumped into the fashion trend at the time. I hat a purple hat and coat and four-inch platforms after this film came out. I wish I had a picture. :-)

This was a defining film that mightily affect a generation. The music of Curtis Mayfield made it even more enjoyable. It wasn't just a blaxploitation film, it was a good experience.

Sure the fights were lame, the acting nothing to write home about, and even the sex scenes left a lot to be desired, but this was an important film. See it ass soon as you can.
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CLASSIC Black Cinema
aldrears125 March 2006
First this must be corrected. Superfly was directed by Gordon Parks Jr, not his father, Gordon Parks. Gordon Parks(who I had the pleasure of meeting) directed SHAFT! I wish the moderators of would more closely monitor these post-I visit the site regularly and rely on the information given as fact. Please IMDb, check the accuracy of the post, especially since you have the information on Gordon Parks here.

That being said, what makes Superfly such a great film are its imperfections-the editing, some of the spotty acting. It reads like a documentary in some ways. But the main performance of Ron O'Neal is one of the best the cinema has ever witnessed. He truly captured the paradox of Priest wanting to get out of the drug game by making one last drug deal. An Anti-hero, sure, but he knew he had to leave this lifestyle. That being said, I must say the opening scene where Priest is cruising up Park Avenue while "Freddie's Dead" is playing is extremely cool.

The Soundtrack! There are very few movies in which the Soundtrack not only propels the story forward, but also refutes any glorification of the drug lifestyle. The soundtrack serves to tell a counter-story, which works absolutely brilliantly. Curtis Mayfield is very important to me-a genius, a visionary, a humanitarian, and no one could have done a better job.

I have a cultural affinity for this film-maybe because I'm a black man, but I recommend it to all comers.

All of the main principles behind Superfly...Curtis Mayfield, Gordon Parks Jr. Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, Charles McGregor, have all passed away. I'm so happy they were all a part of this classic piece of Cinema. The Statement that is made by this film warrants repeated viewing and consideration.
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Absolutely Classic Movie
kent-like-what25 March 2004
If you are the kind of viewer that thinks blaxploitation movies are simply camp and you like to laugh at the clothes and whatnot, that's fine... I mean, they are movies after all, not secrets to curing cancer. However, if you are, it is a shame what you'll miss because this film (as with The Mack) is a superior character study and ultimately watchable. As is noted on the DVD commentary, while the clothes and vernacular seem outdated now, at the time they were 'state of the art' as it were. Another thing to remember when watching these films is the insanely low budgets necessitated short cuts like single takes and other such things that make a film 'feel' b-rate; however this film is first rate. O'Neal is excellent, as are Julius Harris and Sheila Frazier and the soundtrack is perhaps the best ever. ***** out of *****
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Gritty, dark, dirty and good.
spacemonkey_fg14 August 2006
Ill be darned if this film wasn't the mother of all Blaxploitation films.

The story is about this drug dealer called Priest Youngblood. He has a good business built for himself by selling cocaine out on the streets of New York city. He and his buddy Eddie have made a small fortune with their dealing and now Priest is ready to bow down and get out of the drug dealing business, but not before doing one last deal. Buy a bunch of coke cheap and make a bunch of money fast. Will his buddy Eddie be okay with that, will the hustler lifestyle let Priest Youngblood go free? And a better question would be, does he really want to leave that lifestyle behind?

I was expecting a crappy blaxploitation flick for some reason. A bore fest with nothing that would surprise me. Boy was I wrong! This film is exceptionally well written. The dialog rings so true in many scenes that I had no choice but to sing praises for this movie as I was watching it. Phillip Fenty the writer, focused on giving these characters dialog that would sound like real people talking real jive from the streets. I mean when you hear these guys doing a deal, it most certainly sounds like the way it could have really gone down in the streets of New York in the 70s. So be ready for some groovy dialog, thats not only genuine to the era, but also adds a level of reality to the proceedings. Of special notice is a dialog that goes on between Eddie and Priest, in this sequence Eddie tries to convince Priest to stay in the business and make more millions, to live the American dream of having eight track players and TV's in every room. It was just amazing. There's more little speeches like that one spread through out the movie that are really quite excellent.

Visually speaking the movie looks gritty. I mean, grind house cinema was invented by movies such as this one. The streets look like real streets and by that I mean, dark, dirty and rat infested. Its not like todays over stylized films that look slick and pretty yet take away the level of reality from films. Not Superfly though, its quite evident that this film was filmed in the real streets of New York back in the 70s when Queens and The Bronx looked like crap. There's no fancy lighting here or anything, this place looks dangerous, for real. And the film did an excellent job of capturing the feel and stink of New York back in those days. Right from the opening credits when we see Priest parading around the city in his pimped up pink Cadillac to visiting some real nightclubs in New York playing some funked out tunes! That sequence in the club where a real live funk/jazz band is playing totally transported me to that era. The movie just absorbs the 70s and basically just keeps it in this little time capsule perfectly preserved for your viewing enjoyment. And how could this director (Gordon Sparks Jr.) not make a movie as cool as this when his daddy (Gordon Sparks Senior.) was the one responsible for Shaft? There's no doubt that this movie is sleazy, its grind house AND blaxploitation all rolled up into one! The characters aren't nice and perfect, in fact they are the sleaziest, baddest mothers to walk the streets of New York. Even our main character Priest Youngblood spends most of the film stuffing his nostrils with cocaine every five minutes. And I mean this literally not figuratively. They are all drug dealers and coke heads, pimps and crooks, kinda reminded me a lot of Sin City. Only this isn't some CGI fictional city, this is N.Y. C! And yet, the cool thing about this film is that it is sleazy, and gritty yet it has a certain style in its direction that is very hard to ignore. There's this one scene in particular that really blew me away in which we see Priest and Eddie moving on up in the drug dealing business by a series of photo montages that were really amazing. And after I saw this film I had no doubt in my mind where Blow got some of its ideas from.

Ron O Neal absolutely dominates this movie as Priest Youngblood. The badass drug dealing cool dude who everyone looks up to and fears. The guy moving up in the dealing world and you better look out and not mess with him. He is an anti-hero cause I have to admit about half way through the movie I couldn't believe that I was actually rooting for a freaking coke dealer who got high on his own supply! What I mean to say by all this is that this character is highly memorable and will have you rooting for him in no time flat, despite his despicable lifestyle.

But above all else, the film had a good story. The bad guy wanting to get out and live with his girl. But can he escape? Will he? Or was this all he was born to do? Rent this movie and find out. This is without a doubt THE best blaxploitation film I have ever seen and highly recommend it to those who enjoy gritty, dark and funky gangster films from the seventies.

Rating: 4 out of 5
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Art Imitating Life
riversja200130 May 2004
Ron O'Neal played the role of Youngblood Priest in 1972 movie SuperFly CONVINCINGLY well. Some people believed he was actually a drug dealer or hustler in real life, that's how good his performance is. O'Neal understood the character of Priest well enough to know what messages he believed Priest was trying to convey to Black America as well as to mainstream America about life in the ghetto (urban city), about how one's choices and options can be shaped by the socio-economic environment and then reshaped and changed by personal choices, and about the moral dilemmas one may experience during this process.

SuperFly is a form of art that imitates life. Its hard core portrayal of life in the ghetto (urban city) as experienced by victims and predators and just everyday folk shows how everyone is trying to survive in the game; it showcases how people find themselves responding and reacting to their circumstances and socio-economic environment, and when they believe they are not in control of their destiny, or when they believe they don't have options and choices in their lives. Some call the overall feelings in these communities as those of despair, hopelessness, or helplessness. Others say these communities are filled with bravado or defensive posturing.

In the context of survival in the ghetto, the character of Priest is viewed as a hero because something makes him realize he does have choices in his life. He comes to realize that he has a choice whether to continue dealing drugs or to get out of the business. He has a plan to get out, although he is not sure if it will actually work, but he is willing to die trying to become free. Priest is a hero when he realizes that he has to find the right kind of support and help for thinking about and acting on his choice of freedom, especially when his support system for sustained change is limited, as evidenced by those who don't believe he can get out alive and are willing to betray him for trying to leave the business. Priest recognizes that he is in a moral dilemma as he professes to be "tired of the life" and "never really liked it" but he needs to score one last time so that he can leave with something rather than with nothing. Indeed, Priest should be commended for wanting something else out of life even if he does not know what that "something else" is, especially in a social environment where there may not be much support for doing what Priest ultimately makes the decision to do. When making the choice to change, everyone has to start somewhere, and this is part of the message conveyed by O'Neal's commanding performance.

Let the viewer not forget the many issues that helped to influence the decisions that Priest had to wrestle with --- the socio-economic environment of the ghetto and its relationship to a corrupt police department, among its relationships with the many institutions of the white power structure.

Unfortunately, if the viewer focuses strictly on the cinematography, directing, and low budget issues of this movie, the viewer might miss the important individual and social messages that the movie is trying to convey.

Most importantly, Ron O'Neal's performance demonstrates his understanding of the character and why he took the risk and took on the role as Youngblood Priest at that time in his career, a career which began when he was cast as the lead role in Charles Gordone's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "No Place to Be Somebody", (a play which began on off-Broadway's Public Theater but later went to Broadway in 1969). Ron O'Neal won an Obie Award, a Clarence Derwent Award, a Drama Desk Award, and a Theatre World Award for his work prior to SuperFly.

During an interview about three years ago, I heard Ron O'Neal say that he did not apologize for taking the role or making the movie that may have eventually compromised his career. Said he to the interviewer, "If I had not taken the role, would we be talking right now?"
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A True Black Power Masterpiece
main-384 March 2010
Rather than sugar coating subject matter and attempting to be politically correct, exploitation films blatantly depicted drug use and violence forcing movie goers into situations they may or may not be comfortable with viewing. Blaxploitation does this just as any other films encompassed in the genre and, unfortunately, has gotten excess criticism from both film critics, advocacy groups and even Civil Rights leaders. Films like Dolemite, Blacula and especially Superfly have been said to further stereotypes, promote violence and generally cast Black culture in a negative light. However, what many fail to see is that movies like Superfly are truly liberating to the culture the film is targeted for and further more, a commentary on social lives of Blacks at the time. Much like H. Rap Brown's, Die N!@@^# Die, Superfly is a commentary of two kinds of African American thought during the late 60s and into the late 70s.

Of the many positions taken in the book, H. Rap Brown argues that there were different kinds of African American mentalities during the Black Power movement. There were those who were ready and willing to fight for change and move away from a society dominated by white ideals and racism. Although, there were also those who were complacent with their lives and unwilling to take any stance against the race who continued to force them into second class lifestyles. These mentalities are clearly stated in Superfly and it is an issue that the protagonist, Priest, struggles with throughout the film. Priest is a streetwise cocaine dealer in the midst of making a life changing decision. Rather than continuing his life dealing drugs, fighting rivals and avoiding the corrupt police he decides to make one final deal and leave the life. The Priest character's archetype is very similar to the second of the two groups mentioned in Brown's book. Often times, African Americans tired of the white controlled system turned to drugs and crime. Rather than trying to better society, they often times made it worse, killing and corrupting others. The Priest, fed up with the white dominated society, had acquired a small wealth selling drugs. Although, after some time of dealing he realizes he is putting both his own life and the lives of other in danger.

It is at this point that Priest becomes some what of a black power symbol, slowly removing himself from his previous lifestyle, liberating himself from his white girlfriend; who is clearly using him for his connections in the drug world, and attempting to cast negative light on the corrupt, drug dealing police officers in power. Priest's partner, Eddie, is his stark opposite in the film. Where Priest attempts to leave his old life, Eddie wants to delve deeper into the world after Priest and Eddie are forced into doing deals for the police. Eddie sees this as an opportunity for more wealth, where Priest knows it is truly a form of modern slavery; where the police are the masters and individuals like Priest and Eddie are the slaves and Priest is not willing to tolerate this abuse.

Curtis Mayfield composed and performed all of the songs featured in the film. The films main song, "Superfly", sums up the issues faced by drug dealers on a day to day basis. The lyrics, "Hard to understand ,what a hell of a man, this cat of the slum, had a mind, wasn't dumb, but a weakness was shown, 'cause his hustle was wrong, his mind was his own, but the man lived alone" illustrate Priest's lifestyle as a hustler with a strong mind. He finally recognizes the wrong doings he has committed and must pull himself up from the streets. Similarly, the song "Pusherman" tackles other inner struggles faced by Priest. Lyrics such as, "been told I can't be nothing' else, just a hustler in spite of myself, I know I can rake it, this life just don't make it" show white America's perceptions of Black Americans who have given up on society. Powerful whites, at the time, felt that there was no retribution for those who committed their lives to crime and drugs. Furthermore, a statement is made that inner city African Americans are never given the chances of whites outside the cities; also a trend in Brown's book. Black youths were often times told that there is nothing for them outside of inner city life. The expectations of those around Priest are to deal drugs, make money and risk their lives. Anyone who tries to leave the life will face scrutiny and they are actually expected to fail.

Overall, Superfly black America's response to white America's perceptions about inner city life. Superfly and the Priest are black America's version of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson. The film defines ideas proposed by black power figures and does all of this while still incorporating an entertaining and engaging story. The film is also a commentary of the relationships between different groups of African American groups in violent times. It is a story about retribution and exceeding the expectations of both those in power and those around an individual. Using strong black power themes, a once corrupted drug dealer becomes a symbol of black strength and perseverance at a time when racism was at its worst
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mibailiff28 August 2003
Forget the blaxpop label, SUPER FLY is a minor classic that made a fortune for Warner Bros. Studios in 1972-73. This slick urban romp appealed to all audiences, the evidence was lofty VHS sales (why this hasn't hit DVD I don't know) and a soundtrack that was instant hall of fame material.

Ron O'Neal as Priest, is only different from some 80's Wall Street green mailers, by the cut of his clothes and the curb feelers on his Eldorado Custom (the car used in the film actually belonged to one of NYC's bigger pimps). Like the yuppie trash in WALL STREET, Priest is also looking for one big score so he can quit the business: in this case, pushing cocaine.

"I know it's a rotten game, " opines Eddie, Priest's friend and business partner. "But it's the only one the man left us to play." Social ills commentary aside, SUPER FLY never gets heavy handed, preachy or cheap. It moves and plays out nicely. The acting is credible, both lead and support. The late Carl Lee is a powerhouse as Eddie and when he tells Priest, "{i}f it wasn't for you I'd be OD or in prison," you feel for his certain impending condemnation. O'Neal, a classics trained actor no less, never camps it up despite the (now laughable) wardrobe. He makes Priest likeable, even though self identification with the dope man is limited.

The legacy of the film is the Curtis Mayfield soundtrack. There are not enough adjectives to describe it's brilliance. Mayfield was a genius, his work after SUPER FLY was never equaled simply because it couldn't be. To date, every track plays as powerfully as it did its first time. The true test of time honor.
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Sample dialogue: `You'd give all this up? 8-track stereo, color TV in every room…it's the American dream!'
Anonymous_Maxine29 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
First you have to get over how catastrophically obsolete this film is, and then it might be enjoyable on some deep, subconscious level. Having watched it and learned that it was one of the most controversial blaxploitation films of the 70s, I am a little hesitant to write a scathing review of it, since I'm sure it has some sort of cult following somewhere, but the movie is so badly made and so goofy that it's almost impossible to praise it. I was also shocked to read one IMDb reviewer call the soundtrack one of the greatest in film history. Way off, buddy, but I am willing to admit that at one point, presumably early 1970s, this kind of music was considered great, but today it is so preposterous that it's almost weird.

And by the way, I'd like to once again protest the word blaxploitation, an utterly meaningless description used to describe something which strikes me as something similar to those FUBU clothes, or rap music. By black people, for black people, so who they're exploiting and for whom is beyond me. Being mostly white myself, I'm outside the target audience, but I decided to watch it because I think that ancient styles are so funny. See the teenagers in 80s teen comedies or horror movies, for instance.

Speaking of ancient styles, it's interesting to notice how much the typical audience has evolved over the years since Super Fly was made. A director today, for example, could never get away with making a movie like this, modern audiences just don't have the attention span. The movie moves along like a series of music videos, stopping periodically to insert some dialogue and characters and situations, after which it moves back into another music video. Even that sex scene in the bathtub seemed to go on forever, panning up and down and up and down and up and down the naked bodies in the tub, presumably long enough for the song to play out before we can move on to the next scene.

From a technical standpoint, the film is an absolute disaster. There's a foot-chase early in the movie during which a wire of some sort falls directly in front of the camera lens not once, but twice, the audio is numerous scenes does not even remotely match the video (the never-ending bathtub scene, for example), and the acting is abysmal.

(spoilers) The story is about a drug dealer who wants to do the One Last Gig And Then Get Out For Good, and runs into all kinds of obstacles along the way. All of which, of course, are obstacles just long enough to create some periodic dialogue scenes and then become solved when it's time for the plot to move along. The ending has something of a twist, I suppose, although that may be because I was envisioning a bit of a tragic ending because of the way things were leading, but the movie as a whole is a tired, plodding exercise through the jive of the streets of the big city in the early 1970s, with lots of badass blacks and evil white cops screwing everything up.

I don't like the way the black people were portrayed in the film, as far as being dedicated dope smugglers and cocaine dealers and whatnot, but I still don't think that the term blaxploitation is appropriate, because you have to admit that Priest's intentions were honorable. Sure, he had been leading a less than honorable life and had less than honorable means for getting out of it, but the important thing is that he wanted to get out, he wanted to change his life for the better. I think the only way that blaxploitation can be used to accurately describe movies like this is in the way stereotypes are used as a starting point for the story. Lots of black criminals, basically.

I've heard that Denzel Washington has talked about doing a remake of this movie with the director of Training Day. Given how far Denzel has fallen in his acting career because he keeps making the same movie over and over, it seems that he doesn't care as much about where his career goes from now on. Surely he has more than enough money to last the rest of his life, but why would he want to do something as crazy as that? Did he not see the train wreck that was Samuel L. Jackson's remake of Shaft?
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Superfly delivers and is one of the best
dworldeater2 February 2017
Superfly is a groundbreaking urban crime classic and of the best films to come out during the blaxsploitation era. After the success of Shaft, this got the green light from Warner Bros. studio and went on to be a big hit and in my opinion a much better film than Shaft. Directed by Gordon Parks Jr. and starring Ron O'Neil as Priest and rounded out by the excellent and totally on point score by Curtis Mayfield, Superfly is a powerful, amazing film. Priest(Ron O'Neil) is a cocaine dealer that is tired of the life and takes steps to get out. Ron delivers an incredibly tough, but cool performance here and comes across very authentic. He definitely embodies what could have been one of the baddest hustlers in town. The film has a lot of style, but has a lot of depth and commentary on what life was like for urban blacks at this time. While Priest is indeed superfly(beyond cool), and a very charismatic and bad ass character, the film does show that hustling is'nt easy and is a hard life that our main man is trying to get out of. The film is very realistic and gritty, much like getting hit in the face with a bike lock. Much of this is still relevant today, especially with regards to crooked cops and civil rights. While, a lot of blaxsploitation movies are very entertaining and fun. Superfly, is much more than that and is a exceptional film and classic that really holds up.
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lukem-5276018 November 2018
Everything about this movie is excellent!!! This is a true example of a 70's urban classic's like such BRILLIANT movies as Death Wish (1974) & Taxi Driver (1976). Superfly is a gritty crime story set in the gloomy wintery cold looking New York City that as we know was a very dark & dangerous place to live. This story is about a hood rising up to a king pin of drugs selling & i TOTALLY do not agree with drug dealers or drugs but this story is really well told & gripping & the excellent performance from our lead anti-hero the solid & intense Ron O'neal who really is great in this iconic role. Superfly is a perfect old school blaxploitatation film with an excellent cast & an excellent now legendary soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield & a real gritty look at the gangster world of new york city hoodlife & the rise & fall & wanting of a better life & that escape!!! Well acted & exciting with some good action & that excellent dark 70's new york city atmosphere that only exists in those very old grimy & gritty films of that time specifically filmed on those mean streets!!!
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A Seventies Standout
ColemanDerrick15 July 2001
One of the best crime dramas of its period, Superfly is a great, powerful film. As much as I am against illegal drugs, I really felt sympathetic for Priest, a man who wants out of a life which leads to certain death. Many viewers miss the message of Superfly. Yes, he is cool, yes he has his women. But, Priest also knows he is not invincible, and he knows that he has no true control over his life, while being a drug dealer. Too many people get caught up in the soundtrack and the fashion; but if you concentrate on the story, it is just short of an antidrug message.
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"Street Scenes and Hustler Schemes"
Camera-Obscura20 September 2006
You're in for an ultra-cool ride if you go along with Youngblood Priest, who lives "the Life", the way of hustling and pimping in an urban underworld with all the ladies, the dope, the money, that comes along with it. He's got it all! "The only game the Man has left for us to play", so that's what Priest is gonna do, as all the other characters in blaxploitation-flicks do, stick it to The Man! He is a Harlem cocaine pusher who wants out of this hustling lifestyle and wants to retire from the business, but first he has to make one last million-dollar dope deal.

The music, the fashions, the sideburns, the cars, the gritty New York locations, this is plain streetwise dirty fun, one of the best of all the blaxploitation-films. SUPERFLY capitalized on the insight of both SHAFT (1971) and SWEETBACK (1971), but came with an even more astonishing soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. It spawned one of the greatest albums off all time, an immensely influential music score. It has become such a classic, that almost everybody instantly recognizes it, many, many more than have seen the actual movie. For a long time, the same applied to me. I think I owned the album for over ten years before I ever saw the film.

It's obviously low-budget but relatively well made, with an exciting if somewhat familiar storyline. The secondary characters are a bit flat but Ron O'Neal, a former stage actor who did a lot of Shakespeare before this, gives a dynamic performance as Priest. From within the black community, the film has often been accused of dubious morals because of it's glorification of drug-pushers and use of heroine. That very well may be, but this was what people in those days wanted to see. Black heroes in real-life situations on city streets. That's what these movies were made for, for a black audience and making some good money in the process. Nothing more, nothing less. SUPERFLY clearly has become more of a cultural icon, far surpassing it's cinematic virtues. Just rancid fun, great music and style to burn.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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Feet walking...hands passing telegrams...
Gangsteroctopus17 July 2007
To anyone out there who wants to see a seminal blaxploitation film: skip this one! This is one of the absolute DULLEST movies you will ever see. All the high ratings that people give this one, I gotta wonder what the heck they were smoking/snorting (some of Priest's blow, no doubt).

Just check under the 'Trivia' section where it's revealed that the script was only 45 pages long - thus all the footage of people driving, walking, etc. This recalls comments by notorious schlockmeister Herschell Gordon Lewis in an interview with John Waters in which Lewis recalls how he purchased an unfinished film called 'Monster A Go-Go' and filled out the continuity by shooting random, unrelated footage of 'feet walking...hands passing telegrams, etc.' This movie may as well have been directed by Lewis, for all the 'excitement' that it evokes. Gordon Parks Jr. could not hold a candle to his old man (R.I.P.).

So pass this one over and check out any number of GOOD blaxploitation pictures, like just about anything with Pam Grier ('Coffy', 'Foxy Brown'), or 'Black Shampoo', or 'Detroit 2000', or a Doris Day movie...
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Possibly the Best "Blaxploitation" Film Ever Made
Uriah4326 November 2013
"Priest" (Ron O'Neal) is a drug dealer who realizes that the dangers of his profession are bound to catch up to him and decides to retire. But first he wants to make one last "big score" before he does. So he talks to his partner "Eddie" (Carl Lee) and his mentor "Scatter" (Julius Harris) and they reluctantly agree to support him. However, after one slip of the tongue things begin to unravel very quickly for all three of them in one fashion or the other. Anyway, rather than reveal the rest of the plot and possibly ruin the film for those who haven't seen it, I will just say that this is possibly the best "blaxploitation" film ever made. As a matter of fact, in my opinion only "Shaft" can equal its stature within the genre. Be warned though that this film is certainly not for general audiences. Be that as it may it is still very interesting and all things considered I rate this movie as definitely above average.
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An overwhelming bore.
I can't understand how this film has acquired any kind of cult status over the years. "Super Fly" has a lame plot, little in the way of dramatic incident, a poor narrative and rather average acting. Yes, the theme tune by Curtis Mayfield is pretty good but a film can hardly sustain itself by this alone. I could only see the cast engaging in endless talk and this quickly grew tiresome. As if one wasn't enough, a second movie - titled "Super Fly T.N.T," was unleashed in 1973. "Shaft" and "Across 110th Street" are far better.
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The turning point of the Blaxploitation!!!
elo-equipamentos14 April 2019
Shaft was the very first experience on Blaxploitation genre, in fact it wasn't called genre properly , just later this term arises, quickly this kind amazed me due the African American people have their own filmmakers making movies to them, actually they never did, so it becomes to me one my fav type nowadays, Super Fly that l watched yesterday only is better for all, drug dealers, pimps, prostitution, everything were happened in America were in this unbeatable picture, it wasn't an apology of drugs, it was a real life, the black filmmakers sized the opportunity wisely when the American cinema was on a tightrope, they implied their way of life after late 60' and early 70' and made history, getting respect from the critics and the media, in great style by the way, great efforts were made to finish this near masterpiece, those characters are colorful as the leading character mainly Carl Lee in those black mannerism, on so slow talking, a sort of brazen behavior, al those gorgeous and raunchy girls, dirt sidewalks and streets expose to the viewers a decaying New York, junkies in every corner, the soundtrack was another masterpiece, even it wasn't able to my taste, l have to admit that was appropriate to improve the whole movie, finally the Priest's car is a separate chapter, allowed to study process, anyway a best Blaxploitation ever!!


First watch: 2019 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 8.75
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Vivid and influential blaxploitation picture.
Hey_Sweden23 September 2018
Ron O'Neal debuted as film star with this notorious film, accused back in 1972 of glorifying drug pushers and stereotyping black Americans. O'Neal plays "Priest", a cocaine dealer who lives a pretty nice life, but has decided that he wants OUT. And he's determined to make one last killing before he leaves the business. Some trouble ensues when he gets mixed up with a big-time drug kingpin who wants to "own" him.

The characters *shouldn't* be that sympathetic, but it's a credit to the main actors that they can still make them reasonably engaging. O'Neal, in particular, has a real presence on screen. He's ably supported by Carl Lee ("Gordon's War"), who plays Eddie, his primary cohort who doesn't care if he is exploited as long as he gets to live a long and comfortable life. After all, as he points out, it's not like "the man" gives people like Priest and Eddie many options in life. Top character actor Julius Harris ("Live and Let Die") shines as "Scatter", a hardened old veteran of the drug business who has also tried to leave that life behind - for the most part. The lovely Sheila Frazier ("Three the Hard Way") is cast as Priests' lady friend Georgia. And Charles McGregor ("Blazing Saddles") leaves an impression as the rather weak "Fat Freddie".

"Super Fly" is directed with verve by Gordon Parks, Jr., son of the Gordon Parks who began the genre with a bang by directing "Shaft". The 70s fashions are a hoot to look at 40 plus years later, and use of locations is quite good. But one of the heaviest assets that the film can boast is the vibrant music score and tunes by Curtis Mayfield (especially the insanely catchy "Pusherman"); Mayfield and his band also appear on screen. Viewers are sure to enjoy Parks Jr.'s interesting approach to shooting a sex scene.

It's never made that clear why Priest is so intent on leaving the drug business; while he may not be as disreputable as the character could be, he's still absolutely no angel. And, in an interesting twist, Parks Jr. and company don't spend any time moralizing against drugs, which is precisely what turned off audiences of the time. Priest is not exactly a role model, even if he does plan to "stick it to the Man".

All in all, however, this is a breezy (clocking in at a trim 92 minutes), and never graphically violent, example of its genre.

Followed by two sequels (one with O'Neal, one without him) and a remake just this year.

Eight out of 10.
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If I could be so cool
KingCoody17 October 2003
A couple of, shall I say, rectal areas dismiss this classic. I don't know what kind of dildo they had up that spot but it must have been painful to not see that this movie told a story in such a way that A films such as "Ryan's Daughter" and "Saturday Night Live" wish they could. From Ron O' Neals' performance down to the great Curtis Mayfield score this movie was hitting on all cylinders. Instead of doing repeats of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Dawn of the Dead" or the disappointing "Shaft" someone should do this one again just to see if they can match the muscle of one of the films that was too badass for little minds to see clearly.
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Superfly tells it why!
mdewey21 January 2004
You probably have heard all the negative rhetoric about the so-called "Blacksploitation" movies of the '70's, in some cases an applicable term, but not for this one!

Ron O'Neal and his supporting cast deal with the reality of street life as it was "back in the day", especially from the drug dealing/club life standpoint. Right or wrong, cocaine was the new drug of choice and money was to be made selling it, which made that especially attractive to unemployed young Black men who had a knack for the fast life out on the street.

But lo and behold, "Priest" shows signs of ambivalence toward his highly lucrative life style! His street toughness is now juxtaposed with his more sensitive side, wanting to get out of the game and settle down somewhere nicer with his main woman. And Ron O'Neal does a masterful job of showing the audience his multi-dimensional persona.

The supporting cast, e.g., Carl Lee (his right hand man), Scatter, (his so-called mentor) and many others meet the demands of their respective roles and add to the realism of big-city street life in the early '70s. Some of the actors seem to have been hired straight off the street and seem a tad stiff and unprofessional, but what do you expect when you are trying to work within the confines of a shoestring budget?

Also, the movie's impact would be sorely diminished were it not for Curtis Mayfield's outstanding score! His was at least as good as Isaac Hayes' "Shaft" soundtrack, but "Superfly" didn't seem to get the same recognition as "Shaft's" score. The mood and dynamics of the movie would have suffered without Curtis Mayfield's soulful renderings.

If you have never seen it, check it out. If you saw it a long time ago, check it out again: It's worth it!
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Technically, it's awful.
jbacks3-126 May 2006
The fact that Ron O' Neal actually comes off as a sympathetic character in this mess is pretty amazing. Even more so than "Shaft," this has not aged well. Wrapped in every early 70's urban cliché, you've got coke magnate Youngblood Priest tooling around town in a stereotypical pimped-out Caddy Eldo wearing pimp threads with no apparent thought given to keeping a low profile. Yeah, he wants out of the game after scoring $300K on 15 kilos but he's conflicted--- it's not enough money after splitting it with his partner and he's running up against some greedy (also stereotypically) corrupt cops. Gordon Parks Jr. has a lousy grasp of cuts and staging. You don't have to be a USC Film School grad to see how much superfluous padding was added to almost every scene to stretch out the running time. The acting itself ranges from barely competent to laughable with the fight scenes looking like outtakes. The mess is lifted considerably by Mayfield's score and the glimmer of O'Neal's acting talent. "Super Fly" was a monster hit and wrought the even worse "Super Fly TNT" sequel, but this one makes audiences appreciate "Shaft," directed far more competently by Park's father. I could rant about the ridiculous early 70's urban fashion sense, the lack of production values, etc., etc., but I have to acknowledge that based on the monster grosses, Super Fly hit a nerve with audiences. Music aside, it's a poorly rendered film and hasn't aged well.
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