“SHEBA BABY”– A Chicago P.I.

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Sheba, Baby”

A Chicago P.I.

Amos Lassen

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Pam Grier is a Chicago private detective, Sheba Shayne. She goes home to Louisville, Kentucky when her father’s neighborhood loan operation is vandalized and the old man himself attacked by vicious thugs trying to run him out of business. They  work for a mid-level loan shark/all-around operator named Pilot (D’Urville Martin) who in turn works for a higher authority who goes by the name of Shark (Dick Merrifield) and is busily consolidating control of all the various rackets in the black neighborhoods around town. Honest businessmen like Sheba’s father and his partner, Brick Williams (Austin Stoker) haven’t got a chance when the crime lords decide that legit loan operations are standing in the way of the 20-30% they can charge desperate people who have no legit alternatives.  Sheba goes undercover and tries to lure the crime bosses in with her always-alluring feminine wiles and as she does, she has physical altercations with the thugs. However this film is light on the mayhem and violence front. The few murders that we see are bloodless.

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Grier is charismatic with a lot of sex appeal and that is all you really need for a film like this. She was one of the top three or four black movie stars in 1975 and an actress who was one of the two actresses (along with Barbra Streisand) whose name above the title could guarantee a profit on a film with the right budget. Pam Grier is strikingly beautiful and emits a kind of healthiness and a lot of stamina. This is her movie and although I would love to have it tightened, I am just glad I finally got to see it at all.

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Unfortunately, however, the film is routine in many aspects. The more outrageous characters are just too stereotypical to take seriously and the bad guy comes across as a wimp and does not seem threatening. Sheba is one-woman-war against organized crime to revenge the death of a family member. This time her father gets gunned down after refusing to sell his loan-company to some criminals. Then when her father is killed, everything seems to fall apart.

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