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PHOTO ESSAY

Blaxploitation Cinema

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Dolemite

Courtesy Xenon Entertainment Group/Photofest.

While Blaxploitation films may have hit a low point artistically with 1975's Dolemite, the film nevertheless spawned sequels as well as a cult following that continued into the 21st century. The Dolemite character came from the X-rated stand-up routine of Rudy Ray Moore, a moderately successful comedian who had been releasing recordings of his act for years, including the album Eat Out More Often (1970). In the title role of Dolemite, Moore revisited the common tropes of the genre: a wrongfully-accused black man out for revenge, a rough urban setting, and a heavy emphasis on action and sexuality. The astonishingly poor quality of the film, from the tone-deaf acting to the film crew flubs (boom microphones are accidentally visible in many shots) to the virtually nonexistent plot, contributed to its cult status. As amateur as the film was, it is rightly remembered as an almost gleefully subversive spoof, with the wisecracking protagonist repeatedly outwitting a racist political system. Moreover, the movie made enough money to spawn a sequel, The Human Tornado (1976). Moore directed the follow-up, and continued some of the unintentional hilarity of the first movie, which included Dolemite's signature "Pimp-Fu" style of fighting and random scenes of the character's raunchy stand-up act. Long after the era of Blaxploitation had ended, the popularity of Moore and his character was strong enough to produce a documentary (The Legend of Dolemite, 1994) and a straight-to-video sequel (The Return of Dolemite, 2002). Moore continued making public appearances until his death in 2008.

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