The flood of Blaxploitation pictures continued in 1971 with Shaft, in which Richard Roundtree played the eponymous black private eye hired to find Marcy, the kidnapped daughter of big-time Harlem mobster, Bumpy Jonas (Moses Gunn).
John Shaft would not knuckle under to anyone – white cops or black drug gangsters included.
Aided by his friend Ben Buford (Christopher St John), the leader of a militant civil rights group, Shaft found himself up against the Mafia, who are trying to force Bumpy out of his territory.
Former Life photographer Gordon Parks directed with his foot pressed firmly down on the sex and violence pedal and gave the film an almost documentary-like quality.
The brilliant Theme From Shaft remains probably the finest use of a wah-wah pedal since the dawn of civilisation, right? (Damn right).
Richard Roundtree reprised his role in a CBS television series of Shaft which aired between 9 October 1973 and 20 August 1974.
Roundtree came to acting by way of a modelling career, joining the Negro Ensemble Company in 1967.
Prior to Shaft, he had appeared in What Do You Say To A Naked Lady? (1968), Alan Funt’s X-rated variation on the Candid Camera theme.
Christopher St John
Sgt Tom Hannon