“She’s Ten Miles of Bad Road For Every Hood in Town!”
She’s a lean, mean butt-kicking machine, and when she makes the scene, you’ll wish you were only having a dream … OK, so that doesn’t totally make sense, but you get the picture. She’s Cleopatra Jones, an outrageous, karate-chopping, 6’2 secret agent decked out in the latest chic polyester fashions and driving a sleek black Corvette as she smashes and trashes a nefarious drug smuggling ring led by the evil, leather-clad crime queen, Mommy (played by scenery-chewing Oscar-winner Shelly Winters!). This fun, campy, comic book-style blaxploitation flick should teach you at least one thing: Get in her way, and she’ll only make you pay … or something like that.
Former supermodel Tamara Dobson (a striking 6’2 beauty once billed as “The Screen’s Tallest Woman”) made her movie debut as Cleopatra Jones, a black female James Bond and a secret drug agent for the United States government, albeit a secret agent who prefers to drape herself in conspicuously eye-searing furs, pantsuits, ponchos and capes (a new outfit in every scene!) that make her look like Rainbow Brite’s giant sister with an afro (or turban, depending on the day of the week). One fine day, the notorious Ms. Jones casually strolls up a sand dune and orders the complete destruction of a massive Turkish poppy field. Thousands of miles away, an insane L.A. drug lord named Mommy (two-time Oscar-winner Shelley Winters, hilariously hamming it up with garish fright wigs, black leather trench coats and lecherous lesbian-tinged leers), who just so happens to own said poppy field, screeches as her life blood burns away. Out of sorts and out of her mind, the evil Mommy lures Cleopatra stateside in order to exact her revenge on the globetrotting crimefighter, who is more than ready for battle with her ultra-cool sports car equipped with a submachine gun in the front door, her vicious hand-to-hand combat skills and her ability to make sweet, sweet love when absolutely necessary. Full of campy action, colorful performances (including Starsky and Hutch’s Antonio Fargas as a freak named “Doodlebug,” not to mention a seriously nutty performance from Shelly Winters that probably had the Academy Awards folks gritting their teeth) and an extremely funky soundtrack with songs by Millie Jackson, Cleopatra Jones will give you the sass and then kick your ass. (Dir. by Jack Starrett, 1973, USA, 89 mins., Rated PG) Digital