Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Minor lesbian content
Short Take: Cleo is a special agent in this Blaxploitation classic. She defeats a lesbian drug trafficker played by Shelley Winters.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 1973
Duration: 89 min
Language: USA/English
Director: Jack Starrett
Writer: Max Julien
Starring: Tamara Dobson, Bernie Casey, Brenda Sykes, Antonio Fargas, Esther Rolle, Shelley Winters

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Cleopatra Jones

If you like 1970s Blaxploitation films, check out Cleo! Cleopatra Jones (Tamara Dobson, Chained Heat) is a special agent and all purpose crime fighter, a tall African-American woman who swoops in to take care of any situation. She’s got a cassette tape player and phone in her Corvette, super high tech for 1973, and an amazing array of costume changes to go with her hip afro. Right on, cat. Funky music is a soundtrack to her karate chops and kicks, perhaps a little lacking in the excitement department, but not bad for the time.

We first find Cleo in Turkey ordering the torching of a poppy field. When Mommy (Shelley Winters), a US drug trafficker, finds out, she vows vengeance. Mommy’s henchmen and dirty cops go after Cleo and her friends, but to no avail.

Mommy is quite the character, a sleazy, power mad racist who wears black leather and has a habit of groping beautiful women in her employ. It’s hinted that these young women must also share her bed, although we never see anything further than her hand on a derriere.

When Mommy and Cleo finally face off, Mommy asks, ‘What do you think of my little love nest? You sweet pickininny, you know what turns me on.’ Cleo responds with, ‘You’re liable to find this meat just a little too tough’ before getting rid of the Mommy problem forever. It’s a camp fest. (AB)