• Good Guy From Harlem, The

    Released by: Eastwest
    Released on: 7/7/2008
    Director: Rene Martinez Jr.
    Cast: Loye Hawkins, Cathy Davis, Wanda Starr
    Year: 1977
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    The Movie:

    The blaxploitation movement of the seventies wasn’t necessarily known for big budget extravaganzas. Obviously there were big studio entries, Shaft being a prime example, but a lot of these pictures were made fast and cheap. That said, few were made as fast and as cheap as Rene Martinez Jr.’s mind numbingly awful The Good Guy From Harlem (or, if you prefer, just The Guy From Harlem), an ultra low budget piece of trash made in and around Miami, Florida.

    The film stars Loye Hawkins as Al Connor, a guy. From Harlem. Or so we’re told in the amazing opening song that’ll likely impress you more than any other aspect of this production. At any rate, Al is not just a guy from Harlem, he’s also a private investigator. He’s got a pretty swanky office with a foxy secretary and some nice paneling. And the catchy theme song ensures us that he’s clean, and that he’s got moves. This makes him the perfect choice for the job of guarding an important African princess named Ashanit (Patricia Fulton). Enlisted by the C.I.A., he’s also got to head out into the tough streets (or, more accurately, vacant suburbs) of Miami to find another chick who has been kidnapped by some guy named Big Daddy.

    Evil white guys show up and talk shit, Al tells everyone he can that is in fact from Harlem as if he doesn’t quite believe it himself and is trying to reassure himself (at one point he says “Nobody messes with the guy from Harlem!” and early on in the film someone addresses him as “guy from Harlem.”). He holds up in a hotel room with Wanda and aspires to have a three way with her and a foxy masseuse. It doesn’t work, but this doesn’t stop him from trying to impress her by ordering some room services – two steaks well done and some J&B (I shit you not, that’s what he orders). His secretary, Sue (Wanda Starr), is in love with him but you just know he’s gonna get himself some royal tail before the movie is over. It ends with the most amazingly inept fight scenes ever filmed – they’re more like oddly homoerotic wrestling than your typical cinematic fisticuffs, though you’ve got to give Al credit for hiding the guy he knocks out in the shrubs, even if he does leave his feet laying out in plain view.

    The Guy From Harlem is amazing in its convictions. This is a film that knows no fear. It’s not afraid to get up in front of and audience and yell out ‘I CAN DO IT’ even though it can’t. Rene Martinez Jr., working here from a script by Gardenia Martinez (presumably a relative), made two other films: Road Of Death (available from Something Weird Video) and The Six Thousand Dollar Nigger (better known under the more politically correct title of Super Soul Brother). This is a minor miracle in and of itself as this one shows all the class, style and skill as… I don’t even know. This movie is so mind numbingly bad but made with such misguided and completely unwarranted enthusiasm that it’s hard not to love it. Hawkins, who didn't do much aside from this film amazingly enough, seems to have no idea that his acting is bad – it doesn’t stop him, he just keeps going where others would have quit and not only that, he basically struts. It’s amazing, the whole thing is just amazing.

    Just watch these and learn…


    The transfer is taken from what is obviously an old tape source so the quality of the image reflects that. The film probably didn’t look great to begin with but here it’s soft, fuzzy, occasionally suffering from focus and contrast issues and rather flat. Generally it looks pretty lousy, which is a damn shame.

    The audio is in English, Dolby Digital Mono, and it’s about on par with the video. You can understand the dialogue well enough but that’s about as complimentary as we can get. Hiss and distortion is present throughout, and the levels bounce around a bit.

    There aren’t any extras at all on this DVD.

    The Final Word:

    The presentation on this disc is sorely lacking but the movie itself is an amazingly entertaining work of ultra-bad no budget filmmaking. The fact that nobody involves seems remotely cognizant of this is completely charming (?) and endlessly amusing.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Robin Bougie's Avatar
      Robin Bougie -
      This just got released by Rifftrax! Just downloaded it. Looks like it's gonna be an awesome one. Their first ever stab at a blaxploitation movie.
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      That movie doesn't even need the riffing, but I'd sure like to see what they do with it anyhow.
    1. Robin Bougie's Avatar
      Robin Bougie -
      Just watched it. Was great!