The Black Godfather/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
The 1970s were when the genre which came to be known as Blaxploitation was the new rage in cinema. During those years (approx 1971- 1979) hundreds of films were made. One of the biggest hits alongside Shaft (1971) and Super Fly (1972) was The Black Godfather. Written, Produced and Directed by John Evans, The Black Godfather wasn't quite as flashy and as iconic as some of the other big Blaxploitation hits, but it did gross $1,000,000 at the box office during its run which was a great triumph for a film in this era.
J.J. (Rod Perry) and his friend are looking for money. J.J.'s pal is a junkie and since he's broke, he has to break into another hustler's place to rob him. After JJs friend is killed by the hustler and J.J. gets away, a local businessman and part time hustler named Nate Williams (Jimmy Witherspoon) helps J.J. get back on his feet again. Nate tells J.J. that he has to be honest with him and make sure he doesn't get into more trouble. J.J. agrees to this and Nate lets him leave with some new bread to get himself going again. In this scene you meet Sonny "Spyder" Brown (Tony Burton) a boxer, the man Nate manages. Sonny doesnt like J.J and he shows it.
After J.J. gets some new threads and cleans up, he makes a decision: hes not going to go down the path his friend took by doing drugs. He also wants to clean up the streets and the drug selling by taking down the main contributor to this disease thats happening in the hood. Tony Burton (Don Chastain) is a rich white gangster who's the one reponsible for all the drug trafficking thats going on around J.J.s hood, so he decides that he must get rid of Burton by getting the word out that his dope peddling is destroying the black people.
J.J. goes to a rival gangleader, who is a head of a black militant group (sort of like the Black Panthers) named Diablo (Damu King) and explains the situation and what he wants to do. Diablo gets pissed at J.J. because he knows for a fact J.J. himself is a hustler and is on the dirty side of the game. J.J. explains that he knows what Diablo and others think about him, but he wants to make a change for the better and drive Tony Burton and all the junk out of their hood. Diablo listens and decides to go along with J.J., but he must have control over his own men. J.J. agrees and Diablo joins him.
One of the other players in this game is Lt. Joe Sterling (Duncan McLeod). Sterling acts as the go between for J.J. and Tony Burton. While he never really chooses to be on one side or the other, he is corrupt cop who gets himself in too deep with the underworld figures. When J.J. tells Sterling what's going down, Sterling gives the info to Burton. While J.J. and Diablo start to work together to squeeze Tony Burton out, Burton decides to pay a visit to Nate Williams who he knows is a close confidant of J.J.s. Tony tells Nate that he needs J.J. to back off because if not, things will be bad for him. Nate tells Tony off and makes sure he knows that he's now on J.J.s side and that Tony's time for running things is coming to a close.
At a club, J.J. hangs out with his main squeeze Yvonne (Dianne Sommerfield) who also happens to be Nate's daughter. When Nate shows up to see J.J, he explains that what he's doing about Burton is just going to cause big trouble for them. J.J knows this but he still believes he has to do this for the community and for the memory of his dead friend who was hooked on junk and died.
J.J. sends Diablo and his men out to track down one of Burton's men and theres a big car chase and after a big crash, Burton's guy gets killed. Afterwards, Diablo picks up a local hustler that has been around on the streets for years named Cockroach (John Alderman). Diablo brings J.J. to his place and they both interrogate Cockroach to find out what he knows about Burton's operations. Cockroach has a slight studdering problem so as he tells J.J and Diablo all he knows he sputters it out. They let Cockroach go in the end so he can warn Burton that they are going to take him down.
J.J. and his gang find out that Tony is expecting to get a shipment of heroin at a small local airport. Before Tony shows up, JJ and the gang get ready with plenty of guns and hideout behind the airport. When Tony's men show up they let them have it, blasting away with their shotguns and one of the cars gets driven right into Tony's plane, setting off a giant explosion in the rainy night.
When Tony finds out about this he is pissed and he realizes he has to flush J.J out of the hood so he can get the upper hand. While he's thinking, J.J. even calls Tony up and tells him there's nothing he can do. Only problem is, Tony has one more trick up his sleeve. He goes to see Sonny "Spyder" Brown and his thugs beat him up. Then along with Lt Joe Sterling, Burton and his thugs show up at Nate's house and try to get information out of Nate about J.J.s whereabouts, interrogating and beating him up while his daughter Yvonne watches. When Lt Joe Sterling tries to intervene, Tony kills him then kills Nate for not telling him he where J.J. is. He then kidnaps Yvonne and brings her to a hospital where he hides her as a patient.
J.J and Diablo have a hideout in a warehouse where new coffins are stored. While they are there they hear on the radio that Nate has been murdered. J.J. knows his game is up. Tony gets ahold of J.J. and lets him know that he's got Yvonne. J.J. listens and makes a deal with Tony: he will deliver Tonys shipment of drugs for a $350,000 cut and Yvonne, Tony agrees. After J.J. hangs up the phone, we see he has recorded the chat. J.J. plays the recorded conversation back again and recognizes something. While Tony is speaking, church bells can be heard behind him. One of J.J.'s men realizes that they are the bells of St Marks Church near a hospital in the city. J.J. asks him if he's sure and he says yes. For more solid proof, J.J calls up another friend and plays the tape over the phone and tells his friend to check it out.
After J.J. finds out Yvonne is in fact at the hospital, he gets Diablo and his gang together and they goto find her and bring her home. J.J. and Diablo both get to the hospital where Tony Burton has Yvonne hostage. They take the elevator up to the floor where she is and they get in a gunfight with Tony's men. Tony grabs Yvonne and hides in a kitchen. After getting rid of Burtons thugs, J.J. and Diablo surround Burton and they dont know if theyll be able to get Yvonne out of there since shes backed into a corner with Burton. As J.J. and Diablo creep in closer to Burton, Burton fires at them, but one thing Burton didnt expect was that Yvonne would defend herself by grabbing a butcher's knife off the wall of the kitchen and planting it in Burtons back killing him. J.J and Diablo rejoice as they know everything is Kool and the gang.
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.