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CLEOPATRA JONES (director: Jack Starrett; screenwriter: from a story by Max Julien/Max Julien/Sheldon Keller; cinematographer: David Walsh; editor: Allen Jacobs; music: J.J. Johnson/Carl Brandt; cast: Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones), Shelley Winters (Mommy), Bernie Casey (Reuben), Brenda Sykes (Tiffany), Antonio Fargas (Doodlebug), Bill McKinney (Officer Purdy), Dan Frazier (Det. Crawford), Hedley Mattingly (Chauffeur); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Bill Tennant; Warner Bros.; 1973)
“Plenty of low brow humor.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A lame blaxploitation urban drug story that stars thesexy six-foot-two former fashion model Tamara Dobson, who is stylishly garbed throughout the shoot. It’s helmed in a routine way by Jack Starrett(“Slaughter”/”Race With The Devil”/”The Losers”) and is based on the story by Max Julien, who co-writes it with Sheldon Keller in a campy comic book strip style. It shoots for laughs more than anything else, but only manages a few.

The U.S. undercover federal agent Cleopatra Jones (Tamara Dobson) blows up an opium poppy field in Turkey worth $30 million. This upsets the hammy LA drug crime boss Mommy (Shelley Winters), a lesbian who operated that poppy field and vows revenge on Cleo. Mommy brings Cleo home by paying off the police to raid Cleo’s pet charity drug rehabilitation center in Los Angeles. The residents are falsely busted for heroin possession that was planted by Mommy’s minions. The rehab center is run by Cleo’s nice guy lover boy Reuben (Bernie Casey). When Cleo returns to Watts, Mommy schemes to kill her. Mommy must also deal with the vain, dressed to kill, drug-pusher, renegade, Doodlebug (Antonio Fargas), who breaks from her organization to go on his own.

There are shootouts, violent deaths, plenty of low brow humor and a finale where Cleo takes care of Mommy by giving her a fatal heave-ho.

Since the film was a commercial hit, there was a sequel.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”