Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes is ostensibly about Pasha (Paul Harris), a crime lord who runs a numbers racket. Yet like many other crime-themed stories that are executed without narrative discipline, the picture wanders away from its principal subject matter, introducing such outré elements as a transvestite mob enforcer called Serene (Don Edmondson, pictured below) who enjoys slitting his/her victims’ throats.
An Italian mobster named “Big Tony” (Frank DeKova) also deals heroin in the same location which doesn’t bother Pasha because their interests don’t conflict. But Big Tony gets greedy and decides to take over Pasha’s operation.
A turf war ensues, with Big Tony using his influence with the local politicians to stake his claim while Pasha is forced to utilise his connections within the black community.
Leading man Paul Harris has a solid physical presence but very little charisma, and it says a lot about the picture’s quality that the actor with the best billing is DeKova, whose biggest claim to fame was co-starring in the ’60s sitcom F Troop.
Among the least impressive examples of the blaxploitation genre, this cheaply made and confusing crime thriller is allegedly set in 1956, but cultural anachronisms appear regularly, ranging from such props as a banana bicycle, Afros and an LA Dodgers cap (the Dodgers played in Brooklyn until 1958) to various iterations of ’70s slang.
There are worse blaxploitation films than Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes, but not many.
Released in some markets as Jive Turkey.
Frances E. Williams
Don Edmondson (as Tawny Tan)
Ernie Lee Banks
Henry G. Sanders
Little Billy Jones
Onezene ‘Ben’ Geyen
James T. Jackson
Harold C. Jones