The touching story of one man’s dream to be the biggest, pimpiest pimp of them all, Willie Dynamite introduces us to the titular character arriving at a convention his girls are working, dressed as a wedding cake. There’s some wonderfully jaw dropping sartorial choices throughout that will be guaranteed to entertain you if nothing else. Willie (the outstanding Roscoe Orman, he of Sesame Street fame) has aspirations to be number one in his game. He’s full of himself and convinced of his greatness. Now he has just got to avoid the cops, the other pimps that think they are the pimpiest and a tough, meddling social worker called Cora who wants to save his girls and get them out of the racket.
Willie is on the outs with the pimp council, who have all agreed that to try and get around the city’s crack down on prostitution they’ll each work an area and reduce the competition, along with the friction it causes. Willie is having none of that, principally because he’s a free market capitalist. Cora meanwhile is out to convince at least one of Willie’s girls, Pashen, that there’s healthier ways to make just as much money as she can do working for Dynamite.
Willie Dynamite came out in 1974, right in the thick of the blaxploitation boom. It ticks the boxes of much of what would be de rigueur for similar films of the time, from the magnificent fashion to the style of the film. Willie is very much the antihero here, exploiting his girls and being completely amoral about the consequences of his actions. Often in this field of film his opposition would be a white ‘villain’ but here it’s the black Cora who is seeking to undo the damage he is doing within his own community. It’s a more hopeful example of the pimp subcategory with a deeper focus on the social aspects of the story, and as such it’s refreshingly light on the violence and nudity you might expect to fill it without feeling sanitised.
Though never as popular or iconic as films like Shaft or Super Fly, there’s a lot to enjoy in Willie Dynamite, especially Orman’s performance. He’s supported by a great cast that all make the most of their parts, no matter how much screen time and it makes every scene a blast. If you have an interest in blaxploitation get this, it’s genuinely huge fun. A joyous experience.
The disc is light on extras with only one but it’s a good ‘un - the Ice-T presented ‘Kiss My Baad Asss' episode from Channel 4’s Without Walls series in the 90s, featuring interviews with scene icons like Melvin van Peebles and Issac Hayes.
WILLIE DYNAMITE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: GILBERT MOSES / SCREENPLAY: RON CUTLER, JOE KEYES JR. / STARRING: ROSCOE ORMAN, DIANA SANDS, THALMUS RASULALA / RELEASE DATE: 6TH FEBRUARY