May 2021

“It really was Shaft that proved the true value of the Black dollar. Up until then Hollywood hadn’t seriously considered the breadth, scope and power of the Black moviegoing audience.” – Josiah Howard, author of Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide

“With Shaft, an underrepresented audience finally got the representation they were thirsty for.” – Chris Utley, Shaft fan

“While the Blaxploitation genre lasted less than a decade before burning out, I always thought the Shaft franchise could have endured indefinitely, as the Bond films did.” – Lee Pfeiffer, Cinema Retro

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this multi-page retrospective commemorating the golden anniversary of the release of Shaft, the groundbreaking, franchise-inspiring, crime thriller directed by Gordon Parks (The Learning Tree) and starring then-newcomer Richard Roundtree as the titular character.

Shaft, also starring Moses Gunn (Roots, Ragtime) and featuring Isaac Hayes’ memorable and award-winning music, was released to theaters fifty years ago this month. For the occasion The Bits features a package of statistics and box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context, along with passages from some of its film reviews, a reference/historical listing of its original theatrical engagements, and, finally, a roundtable interview segment with a trio of film historians and Shaft authorities who reflect on the movie (and franchise) five decades after its debut. [Read on here...]

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