(director/writer: William Girdler; screenwriter: story by William Girdler & David Shelden/David Shelden; cinematographer: William Asman; editors: Henry Asman/Jack Davies; music: Monk Higgins/Alex Brown; cast: Pam Grier (Sheba Shayne), Austin Stoker (Brick), D’Urville Martin (Pilot), Rudy Challenger (Andy Shayne), Dick Merrifield (Shark), Christopher Joy (Walker), Charles Kissinger (Lieutenant Phil Jackson), Edward Reece (Racker); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: David Shelden; Arrow Video;1975)
“Pam Grier’s third outing is her worst.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
So-so director William Girdler (“The Manitou”/”Grizzly”) does nothing with this action blaxploitation film but keep it lackluster and tasteless. Pam Grier’s third outing is her worst, lacking the energy of her more flamboyant ones directed with verve by Jack Hill.
Sheba, Baby is based on a lame story by Girdler and David Shelden, who co-write the formulaic and predictable screenplay.
The ethical African-American and community-minded Andy Shayne (Rudy Challenger) of Louisville owns a loan and credit business that black thugs are trying to force him to sell cheaply to them. When the storefront place is thrashed and Andy is beaten, his younger partner Brick (Austin Stoker) sends a telegram to Andy’s private investigator daughter in Chicago, Sheba (Pam Grier), asking her to return and help her dad fight these thugs. Sheba immediately returns to her hometown, reunites romantically with her old flame Brick and survives a car bombing by the bad guys. With no help offered by the police, Sheba with some help from the non-violent Brick, does a man’s job of taking on the goon-like black thugs. She forces a colorfully dressed small-time hustler Walker (Christopher Joy) to tell her that the threatening gang is led by Pilot (D’Urville Martin) and he also drops a dime where the gang hangs out.
Sheba gives Pilot’s boys an ass-whipping in the amusement park. Thereby the annoyed Pilot hires an out of town white gang to thrash the store once again. They are killed by Sheba and one is arrested by the police, but not before they kill her dad.
Sheba realizes Pilot is too stupid to be the big boss, as her detective work leads her to find out the sinister motive for the gang taking over all of the town’s small loan and credit services. She discovers the crime kingpin behind the small loan company takeovers is a well-connected to the community white guy named Shark (Dick Merrifield). While on his yacht partying with the local elites, the revenge-minded Sheba successfully goes after him and the cops on boats arrest the other gang members.
The inconsequential film fails to deliver the requisite sex and violence the Pam Grier fans demand from her films and the execution of the story is flat, as the venture seems so tame it might have been better suited for a TV program than a feature movie.
REVIEWED ON 1/19/2020 GRADE: C https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/