• Dolemite

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: April 26th, 2016.
    Director: D'Urville Martin
    Cast: Rudy Ray Moore, D'Urville Martin, Jerry Jones, Lady Reed, John Kerry
    Year: 1975
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Based on a character that standup comedian Rudy Ray Moore created for his act, 1975’s Dolemite stars Moore in the lead as the titular pimp recently sprung from jail where he was sent after being setup by Willie Green (D'Urville Martin). Thankfully his friend and business associate, Queen Bee (Lady Reed), managed to pull a few strings and get Dolemite out of the big house, even being kind enough to send a bevy of the beauties in her employ out in a car to pick him up. When this happens, Dolemite changes into his finest pimp suit, gets in the car, takes said pimp suit off, and gets with those girls in the Biblical sense.

    Once back in action, Dolemite finds that while he was locked away Green managed to take over Dolemite’s nightclub, The Total Experience, and not only that – the mayor (Hy Pyke) is on it with him! Dolemite vows to get revenge on Green for setting him up and having him locked away, but it won’t be easy. Green’s not only working with the mayor but he’s got friends on the police force, chief amongst them a man named Mitchell (John Kerry). When Creeper (Vainus Rackstraw), the ‘hamburger pimp,’ explains to Dolemite how his nephew was killed while he was behind bars, Creeper too winds up dead and Dolemite and his all-girl army of kung-fu killers decide to take this war to the streets! And with some help from Reverend Gibbs (West Gale) and an F.B.I. agent named Blakely (Jerry Jones), he just might be able to pull this off…

    Dolemite is his name, and fucking up motherfuckers is his game! Moore’s cinematic abortion is a true thing of beauty, a B-movie that never holds back and that works just as well as an insane vanity project as it does a cheap Blaxploitation sex and violence picture. Moore’s ego was clearly massive, as not only does the entirety of the film revolve around him but there are even strategic camera angles employed to accentuate this. Case in point? When Dolemite gives a lucky a lady a ‘fucking you’ll never forget’ some poor cameraman apparently got under Moore while he was doing the deed specifically to capture the love making from that woman’s point of view. On top of that, Moore is not shy. He doesn’t need as many clothes as the rest of us, and if he’s clearly out of shape, so what? He’s Dolemite, motherfucker! You heard me!

    Really though, the whole thing is amazing in its tackiness. When Moore isn’t entertaining people on the street with some of his signature pseudo-rap/jive rhymes, he’s laying a lady or fighting the man. He doesn’t seem to need sleep or food, though he does appear to be well fed, really he just lives for the moment. The fight scenes are only a notch above those featured in The Guy From Harlem and Moore (and/or a stunt double), clearly not the trained fighter that someone like Jim Kelly was, has obvious difficulties getting his leg up higher than his hips. This results in a lot of awkward kicking and groin work and oddly enough, he seems to prefer this to good old fashioned punching. The all-girl army of kung-fu killers fares better than Rudy does in this department, credit where credit is due, but the fight scenes in the movie are ridiculous. That just adds to the film’s charm, however, because when you’ve got ridiculousness all over the place and delivered by the bucket-load like you do with this picture, you just sort of roll with it. And if you roll with it, odds are pretty damn good that Rudy Ray Moore will win you over. Clearly made with a low budget, there’s a lot of obvious passion and drive evident here, even when the movie’s flaws ring loud and clear. Moore puts his all into not just the bad fight scenes or the awkward sex scenes but into every single line he utters on screen. The film goes at a fantastic pace, never once slowing down or coming even close to boring us, introducing enough completely random characters at completely random moments that you’re never given a chance to question how or why any of this is happening. Nor should you, not when a movie is this entertaining and this much over the top fun.


    Presented on a 50GB Blu-ray disc restored from the original 35mm negative in 2k, Dolemite makes its high definition debut from Vinegar Syndrome in your choice of the intended theatrical 1.85.1 widescreen aspect ratio or the more familiar open matter version, complete with all the boom mics! Regardless of which aspect ratio you choose, this new transfer smokes the old DVD from Xenon. Detail is vastly improved and the colors really pop here. Some minor print damage still shows up and the movie still looks like the low budget, fast and cheap production that it was, but the improved clarity, texture, detail and depth go a long way here. You’ll notice it not just in the foregrounds and close ups but the backgrounds as well – you can almost feel the shag carpeting! There are no problems with compression artifacts, obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement and as is so often the case, Vinegar Syndrome have once again offered up a really nice, film-like transfer.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track, which comes with optional subtitles in English only, also gets a pretty noticeable upgrade from past releases on home video. There is still some occasional hiss and some level bounces now and again but for the most part the track is nicely balanced and quite clear. The music sounds a lot stronger here than it did on the DVD while the dialogue is always perfectly audible and quite clear.

    Extras start off with a great commentary track from Rudy Ray Moore biographer Mark Murray (who uses quotes from Moore, Jones and martial arts champion Howard Jackson – sometimes by way of some audio clips, which is kind of cool) that covers pretty much all the bases. This track, which is clearly quite well researched and delivered with some obvious love and enthusiasm for its subject, gives us plenty of background and biographical information not just on Rudy Ray Moore but most of the other key cast and crew members as well. Murray offers up plenty of interesting facts (who knew that Jerry Jones used to be a model for Miller High Life and Pabst Blue Ribbon and ALSO worked as a pimp in real life!), figures and trivia about the film, makes some pretty astute observations about some of the film’s more memorable scenes and paces the talk well so that it is consistently interesting and engaging. He starts off by detailing Moore’s early years, how he got into entertainment after going into the Army in the fifties where he started performing and how after the military he went back to Cleveland hoping for get his break. It goes from there, filling in a lot of the blanks on Moore’s life and times. He then talks about how Moore created Dolemite, which lead to the character appearing on his records and then, of course, in the feature film you’re reading about now. It’s an interesting track and very welcome addition to the disc. Murray not only knows what he’s talking about but also knows that this is a movie ‘we can laugh with, and laugh at’ meaning that he takes it seriously enough but at the same time has some fun with it.

    From there, check out the twenty-four minute I, Dolemite featurette. This piece starts off with Moore doing The Signifying Monkey live and then from there mixes up archival clips and interviews with Moore and Lady Reed alongside some newly shot footage with Murray, actor John Kerry, cinematographer Nicholas Von Sternberg, writer/actor Jerry Jones, director/actor D’Urville Martin , actor Jimmy Lynch and a few others. This well put together pieces does a nice job of filling us in on Moore’s early days, his recording career and how he created the Dolemite character before then giving us a pretty damn solid history less in the making of the picture. Highlights include discussions about never being allowed to write Moore’s dialogue, shopping the film after it was finished (AIP passed on it!), the aspect ratio question and the omnipresent boom mics, the shoestring budget, Kerry’s comfort level with using ‘the N word’ and lots more.

    The disc also includes the twenty-three minute long Lady Reed Uncut featurette. This piece, made up of vintage interview footage, lets Reed talk about her career in show business, how she became affiliated with Rudy Ray Moore, what it was like performing live on stage with him and quite a bit more. She speaks very affectionately about him for the most part but also gives us some welcome background information on her career in entertainment. Interesting stuff.

    Additionally, Vinegar Syndrome has included a two minute Locations: Then & Now piece. This one is a bit on the short side but it does do a good job of showing off how the locations used in the film have changed in the forty years since the film was shot. Theatrical trailers for Dolemite and The Human Tornado round out the extras alongside menus and chapter selection. This release also includes a DVD version of the movie and reversible cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Man, order this disc and give Vinegar Syndrome your cash, 'fore they have be to pullin' these Hush Puppies out your motherfuckin' ass!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. SuperDevilDoctor's Avatar
      SuperDevilDoctor -
      I can dig it.