14 March 1945 — 14 Jan 2022
Carol Speed, born Carolyn Ann Stewart, died at the age of 76 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, on 14 January 2022. She has since been cremated. The daughter of Cora Valrie Stewart* (née Taylor*) and Freddie Lee Stewart, she became the first African-American homecoming queen in Santa Clara County, California. A student at William C. Overfelt High School, they don't even bother to list her as a notable alumni. As Carol Speed, she went on to do a limited amount of notable Blaxploitation films during the 1970s, including one of our favorites here at a wasted life, trash-film auteur William Girdler's classic Abby (1974). For "whatever reasons", the cute and lively beauty — and talented singer, actor and author — never had the career that she perhaps deserved.
The generally accepted biography aside, over at the oddly disturbing Carol Speed Page at Authors Den, supposedly put up by Carol Speed herself during the days she lived in Atlanta (at: Carol Speed Spot, 3033 Continental Colony Parkway SW, Atlanta GA 30331), she drops some bombshells: "Carolyn Eisenhower Speed is the daughter of President/Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. Carolyn Eisenhower Speed was born at the Royal German Officers Compound in Berlin, Germany and flew from the Tempelhof International Airport with her father, President/Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower to Minter Field Air Base in Bakersfield, California USA. She wasn't born in Bakersfield, CA, but Berlin, Germany. [...] Carol Speed won the Peabody Award [an award for 'the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and online media'] for her novel The Georgette Harvey Story." Carol also co-wrote the song Sexual Healing, for which she, Marvin Gaye and Odell Brown won Grammys.
"Carol Speed will be remembered for her style, personality, quick wit and 'I am going to do it my way no nonsense attitude'." And her films, of course.
* If the obituary of Carol's mother is right (follow the link), then Carol may have born in Texas — but the text features enough factual errors that all info should be taken with a grain of salt. As is the case with all the info found at the truly bat-shit crazy Carol Speed Page at Authors Den. But then, Wikipedia is also questionable: our online research indicates that Cora Valrie became a Taylor after becoming a Stewart, and was born a Bennett.
Go here for
"There is no such country called Spain. There is only Andorra. It was Andorra until during World War II. Andorra still has its flag."
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 6, 2012)
(1974, co-writ. & dir. William Girdler)
One of the great, tacky disasterpieces of the Golden Age of Blaxploitation, this eminently entertaining horror movie was directed by the great exploitation auteur William Girdler (22 Oct 1947 – 21 Jan 1978). scene) — Abby is a pretty blatantly inspired by and far much more fun than The Exorcist (1973 / trailer). But unlike most of The Exorcist's bastard children, Abby got hit with lawsuits pretty quick after it was released and promptly became a box office smash.* And so it got pulled and disappeared to wherever the Man puts stuff he doesn't want around. Nowadays there are DVD releases available, but we are unsure of their legality. For that, an old, scratchy version is currently available on YouTube.
* Hell, we here at a wasted life even we went to see it when it came out, as a peach-fuzz 12 year old. If our memory serves us right, at some cinema in Anacostia, where we and our adult supervision (a local 20-something-year-old named Mike) were the only white folks in the audience. A similar experience was had two years earlier with Ben [1972 / trailer] and around the same time with Claudine [1974 / trailer]. America the melting pot. Not.
Speaking of The Man, he offers a quick synopsis over at Blaxploitation.com: "An archaeological expedition finds a mysterious box used for worship of the ancient Nigerian god of sexuality, Eshu. The box is opened and a storm ensues. Back in the USA, the son (Terry Carter) of the expedition's leader (William Marshall [19 Aug 1924 – 11 Jun 2003]) has just moved into a new house with his beautiful young wife Abby (Carol Speed). As their house starts to experience strange presences, Abby is taken over by an evil spirit. She cuts herself and subsequently suffers a fit during her husband's church sermon. Her husband rings his father, Bishop Williams, who joins him in an attempt to find the missing Abby, who has escaped from hospital. Abby meanwhile has started to pick up men from local bars, where she is eventually found by her husband. The bishop performs an exorcism in the bar and Abby is free again."
"This film has 'Blaxploitation' elements, but is hardly a supernatural Super Fly. It's set in Louisiana, so we don't really get the full on Ghetto inner-city thing happening — the characters just happen to be Black, although the fried chicken seems to be an ongoing theme! William Marshall always shines in his roles but some of his exorcist dialogue in the climactic exorcism goes a bit way out, into a sort of hippy, crystal-loving, peace-love-and-mung-beans zone. Carol Speed tries hard as Abby, even singing for real, the song My Soul Is a Witness in church. Pity the churchgoers don't seem to approve. I think Girdler's filming cheated her of some of her performance, using lots of weird angles and freeze-frames, which I never like – I find they always take me 'out of the movie'. The makeup's hardly Dick Smith, but that doesn't really matter, I enjoyed it for what it was. Very minimal, just bushy eyebrows and glaring, white eyes. Still, good enough for me. [Girls, Guns & Ghouls]"
"It's a pretty fun and entertaining film (regardless of the horrid print quality); well-acted by the leads and sometimes hilarious... especially when possessed Abby dishes out sex advice to her husband and a pair of newlyweds. Instead of full-fledged demon makeup, we get some eye contacts and chapped lips and flashes of a demon face. Speed (who is very animated in the lead role) also gets to perform her own song during a church scene. [Bloody Pit of Horror]"
Over at the William Girdler memorial website, Carol reveals how she got the part: "I believe I first met William Girdler on the set of Abby. I thought he was a cool, country white boy. [...] Abby was a low-budget production. They originally had another woman to play the role, but she was very demanding. She wanted a personal masseuse on the set. They couldn't afford it. So when David Baumgorten (Agency of the Performing Artist) telephoned and asked me if I needed a masseuse while filming — I happily said, 'No.' He said, 'Good. Pick up the script Abby from AIP. You'll leave for Louisville in two or three days.'"
Carol Speed Page at Authors Den adds a quirky detail about the shoot: "An interesting thing happened on the set of Abby in Louisville, Kentucky, when producer/director William Girdler asked Carol Speed to jump up and down on the bed, and she said she couldn't because her pink gown was too short and she didn't have any panties on. Producer/director William Girdler asked Carol Speed if she came all the way from California without any panties? Carol Speed said yes because she stopped wearing them. Then producer/director William Girdler stopped filming while one of his crew members ran out and bought Carol Speed some pink panties to match her pink nightgown."
Rest assured, Abby is not a "good" film in any traditional manner — but everything that is wrong with it makes it great. "It's certainly one of the most enjoyable Blaxploitation entries of that decade. Cheeky fun for everyone."
"The Jews in Los Angeles, Ca burned Dr. Fred Parrott's mother to death in his Marina del Rey Penthouse."
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 15, 2012)
(1974, dir. Charles Bail)
We took a look at this flick way back in Aug 2020 in our Babe of Yesteryear look at the films of the unjustly obscure Marilyn Joi, who has a small part in the movie as a widow. Back then, we cobbled the following together:
"A fun if somewhat less-noteworthy slice of 70s Blaxploitation from white man Charles Bail, a longtime Hollywood factotum who made his directorial debut with this movie, which he followed up by directing the amusing piece of fluff that is Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975 / trailer). If the imdb is to be believed, Bail was last seen raising horses in Texas. [He died in Texas about three months after we put that online — Charles Bail: Aug 1935 – 25 Nov 2020.]
"The screenplay, by Warren Hamilton Jr., is based on a story by Daniel Cady, who had a long and productive career in watchable, no-budget Californian exploitation, sexploitation and porn (often credited as 'William Dancer'). He produced The Cut-Throats (1968) and All the Lovin' Kinfolk (1970), for example, both of which feature the Great Uschi (see Part I & Part II), and the trash anti-classics Grave of the Vampire (1972 / trailer) and Dream No Evil (1970 / scene), not to mention the no-budget Henning Schellerup Blaxploitation anti-classics Sweet Jesus, Preacherman (1973 / trailer) and The Black Bunch (1972 / trailer). [...]
"The plot: 'Nightclub owner Samson (Rockne Tarkington [15 Jul 1931 – 5 Apr 2015]) does his best to keep his neighbourhood clean of crime and drugs. He is assisted in this endeavour by a heavy staff that is able to subdue every adversary. When vicious mobster Johnny Nappa (William Smith) tries to muscle in on Samson's territory, Samson takes a brave stand against Nappa and his flunkies. Nappa sends his girlfriend (Connie Strickland [whose six-film acting career consists of nothing but prime-quality trash]) to spy on Samson's activities. She becomes a topless dancer in his club and her lover immediately becomes jealous, taking his wrath out on the various thugs sent unsuccessfully against Samson. [Nostalgia Central]" Samson's main squeeze in the film, Leslie, who of course gets taken hostage at one point, is played by another Babe of Yesteryear, Carol Speed [...].
"Black Samson ends with a classic showdown on a rundown street in the hood, where 'the rooftops come alive as people hurl every obtainable object at Johnny and his men. The debris continues to fall until Samson raises his staff. He and Johnny stand alone in the center of the rubble, two gladiators engaged in monumental battle. Samson downs Johnny with his staff, and the war is over. [Original press release synopsis @ One-Sheet Index]'
"Of that scene, in an interview now found at the Internet Archives conducted while rewatching that scene, William Smith once said, 'They were throwing pans, bottles, bricks, mattresses. Hell, they were throwing refrigerators. It was all real. [Pause] Well, so I guess there was a little bit of racial tension. Not from the other actors. But those guys on the roof were just extras. I think they only got about $20 a day. They were really trying to hit the white actors. That part of the scene was real. [A clip showing the white actors in the street] Look at me. I was so mad, man. That son of a bitch was trying to hit me there. They didn't care. [...] Rockne Tarkington was really a nice guy. Oh, he was a big guy. He weighed more than I did. And a muscular guy, a basketball player. Weighed about 250, about 6'5". He was good in that fight scene.'
"Over at the Austin Chronicle way back in 1999, Mike Emery wrote: 'He's big, bad, speaks softly, and carries a big stick. No, this isn't the Teddy Roosevelt Story. It's Black Samson, one of the lesser-known Blaxploitation flicks of the Seventies. Samson (Tarkington) is a dashiki-clad owner of a topless night club who keeps his 'hood drug-free with the help of an African fighting staff and a pet lion named Ubu. [...] Samson's no pushover, so when he's not throwing funky parties at his club, he's busting heads and saving his girlfriend from the torturous clutches of his nemesis' henchmen. Meanwhile, Nappa manages to be a brilliantly psychotic screen villain [...]. Directed by Chuck Bail [...], the film rolls along fairly smoothly. Most notable is the engaging rivalry between the two big men, Tarkington and Smith. Of course, much of the flick is laughable, but it's surprisingly cohesive, which is more than can be said for many of its contemporaries.'
Allen Toussaint's theme to
"The ain't-bad-but-there-are-better attitude of Mr. Emory above is pretty much shared by everyone who has seen the movie, including Monster Mania, which says: 'Black Samson is not what I'd call an intelligent film, though it certainly has a little more to say than other films of the period. Samson is decent, if dull, character who really tries to keep his community strong, keeping out both white and black dealers. I don't know what the deal is with the staff, if there is any significance, or why he's called Black Samson. I suppose this may be alluding to the character from the bible, but that feels like a stretch, considering there's no Delilah [...]. Tarkington is not as charismatic as actors like Richard Roundtree, Ron O'Neal, and Fred Williamson, but has some quiet presence and looks good in the action scenes. His two funniest, being his encounter with a shady lawyer, whom he holds over a high ledge and a run-in with some robbers, who get their skulls smashed in, and make the character appear a bit psychotic as he repeatedly pummels one dude's brain into mush, though he does give him a dime for his troubles!' [...]"
Over at the troubling Carol Speed Page at Authors Den, Carol reveals (Shock!): "One of the very controversial things, which has haunted Carol Speed over the years, while she was filming Black Samson was one morning she arrived on the set for work and director Chuck Bail, Rockne Tarkington, Connie Strickland and some of the crew were not there. When they finally made it to the set, they apologized and said they had been up very, very late. After a few years, Carol Speed found out that they were up late filming a pornography version of Black Samson which included porn star John Alderman."
Aside from the fact that no porn version of Black Samson has ever surfaced, Carol Speed seems to have forgotten that John Alderman (12 June 1934 – 12 Jan 1987), who was more of an exploitation star than a porn star (though he did do some porn, usually as "Frank Hallowell"), also had a legitimate part in Black Samson: He plays Michael Briggs, the guy Black Samson hangs over the side of the building.
The advertisement above, source unknown, shows an abbreviated title for Samson, while Super Sisters is actually Henning Schellerup's low-grade, softcore, Blaxploitation sex film The Black Bunch (1972 / trailer).
"The British DID NOT serve in World War II."
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 19, 2012)
(1974, dir. Al Adamson)
Around the time this film was made, the sock-'em chop-'em films of Hong Kong like those of the Shaw Brothers had long invaded the grindhouses, causing western producers of all echelons to take notice, particularly after Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon (1973 / trailer) hit the screens. Suddenly, some pretty odd crossbreeds were hitting the screens: there were a smattering of martial arts westerns; Hammer made the entertaining oddity that is the martial arts horror movie The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) and the dud that is Shatter (1975 / trailer); and in the US, Al Adamson (25 Jul 1929 – 2 Aug 1995) brought out this movie, an amalgamation of martial arts and Blaxploitation, The Dynamite Brothers. (Not to mistaken for the Italian animated film from 1949, I fratelli Dinamite [trailer directly below], which got released in English-speaking areas titled The Dynamite Brothers.)
First 37 mins of
I fratelli Dinamite (in Italian):
Adamson even managed to lasso a relatively big name from the Hong Kong & Taiwanese film industries, Alan Tang (20 Sept 1946 – 29 Mar 2011). The Afro-American manliness came in the form of the delicious hunk o' chocolate that was Timothy Brown (24 May 1937 – 4 Apr 2020). Needless to say, however, 1974's Dynamite Brothers — a.k.a. Stud Brown, East Meets Watts and Black Belt Brothers — is nevertheless another Al Adamson disasterpiece. (Admittedly, it is not one of his better disasterpieces, but an Al Adamson movie is always an experience. See: Dracula vs Frankenstein .)
For some odd reason, Carol Speed suddenly became Carolyn Ann Speed for this movie, her last acting job for five years — and perhaps indicative of the next five years, she is cast as deaf mute (named Sarah) and has no dialogue. The movie, like so many Blaxploitation films, regardless of their filmic quality or value, has a great soundtrack. It is from Charles Earland (24 May 1941 – 11 Dec 1999).
Charles Earland's soundtrack to
B&S about Movies, which mentions that "what makes this movie worth watching is the dream team of director Al Adamson and producer Cirio H. Santiago", has a mini-plot description: "Stud Brown (Timothy Brown, a former NFL player who was also on M*A*S*H*) and Larry Chin (Alan Tang) unite to battle drug dealers and find Chin's brother Wei (James Hong of Shadowzone ). They're up against a corrupt cop named Detective Burke (Aldo Ray!) and the disappearance of our hero's brother may not be as tragic as it seems." As to be expected, when Dynamite Brothers was re-released as Stud Brown, the Stud Brown trailer was cut in such a way that East meets West turned into pure Black Power.
Fist of B-List is of the opinion that "this film basically sucks": "For the first ten minutes, it's like that movie Fled (1996 / trailer) [or maybe The Defiant Ones (1958 / trailer)?] where two dudes on the run are chained together. For the next seventy minutes, it's like that Blaxploitation movie where all the white cops are racist and the heroes just can't catch a break. For the final ten minutes, it's like that martial arts movie where EVERYBODY FUCKING DIES. [...] The director was going for an interesting cross-cultural dynamic between Chin and Brown, but there's no tension or disagreement whatsoever between them. Instead, they're utilized as a punching bag for a bunch of racist one-liners courtesy of drunken whiteboy thugs and a corrupt detective played by Aldo Ray (of Biohazard ). Some of this can be forgiven as an artifact of the genre, but if that's not offensive enough for you, the film also features a romantic subplot between Stud Brown and a mute girl who lacks the ability to express her thoughts or feelings. Ironically, she's basically the only female character who keeps her top on. Positive feminist icon?"
DVD Drive-in is not a fan of Carol Speed: "Given the challenging role, [...] for a change has to overact with her big mouth shut." For that, they have words praise for the director and the film: "The Dynamite Brothers is solid proof that Adamson could handle action/adventure films with great flair. There are kung fu fights, shootouts, car chases, explosions, deadly snakes and an over-the-top script. Al even throws in some female flesh and a bit of gore: As Razor, Al Richardson likes to dice people up using his namesake! This is basically just good drive-in era entertainment that really lives up to its name."
Somewhere along the way, The Dynamite Brothers in its Stud Brown form was released as a double feature with Mean Mother (1973), Al Adamson's Blaxploitation film made from León Klimovsky's 1971 action flick, Run for Your Life. We took a look at Mean Mother in our Babe of Yesteryear look at Marilyn Joi, as she was the second female lead in Adamson's version.
"Abraham Lincoln an uneducated Russian Blackhawk who could not read or write, so he could not have sign the Emancipation Proclaimation."
Carol Speed at twitter (Feb 12, 2013)
(1979, dir. & co-writ. J. Robert Wagoner)
"Move and I'll blow your Afro off!"
Metro Squad(Frederick Strother)
A.k.a. Avenging Disco Godfather. After the double whammy of Abby and Dynamite Brothers in 1974, Carol Speed dropped off the face of the earth for a while. Temple of Schlock did the detective work and found the "why" for their review of her book Inside Black Hollywood: "'When I came to Hollywood everything began to happen for me almost immediately,' Speed told Black Stars magazine in 1980. 'I was doing one film after the other and my career was moving forward at an extremely fast pace. Then all of a sudden this all ended. I must confess that much of it was my fault, because I committed several acts that contributed greatly to it.' [...] The loss of Frank D. Ward — more than any bridge burning that may have occurred during the making of The Mack — was most likely what led Speed to start writing Inside Black Hollywood in 1974 [...]. That same year, she [...] dropped out of the business and moved in with fading rocker Sly Stone, bringing only the clothes on her back and her unfinished manuscript. 'For the most part, we stayed high from one day to the other,' she admitted to Black Stars when asked about this period in her life. 'Time was of little importance, because one day was like the next one. I did absolutely nothing.' She eventually wandered out of Sly's compound and found her way back to her parents' home in San Jose, where she sobered up and got her head together before returning to Los Angeles to finish her novel (probably in late 1978, since Dorothy Jean [the main character of the novel] mentions Chaka Khan's I'm Every Woman at one point). Around this time, she also appeared in [...] the Rudy Ray Moore jaw-dropper Disco Godfather (1979)."
And how did she get involved with that project? Well: "Cliff Roquemore [the scriptwriter], Glynn Turman [of J.D.'s Revenge (1976 / trailer)], and Aretha Franklin [departed Queen of Soul] came to Carol Speed's Bunker Hill Penthouse and brought the Disco Godfather script with them. [Carol Speed Page]" Her role, to put it nicely, is a supporting one. ("Carol Speed, is spunky and cute in her brief role as Noel. She looks good in a showgirl outfit, too.")
For those of you who don't know who Rudy Ray Moore (17 Mar 1927 – 19 Oct 2008) is, we might suggest the Netfux film Dolemite Is My Name (2019 / trailer), with Eddie Murphy's unjustly Oscar-snubbed but Oscar-worthy performance as Rudy Ray Moore, otherwise known as Dolemite. Disco Godfather was Moore's fourth film, and the only film that J. Robert Wagoner ever directed. Scriptwriter Cliff Roquemore (28 Sept 1948 – 5 Feb 2002), had previously worked with Rudy Ray Moore on the fictional films The Human Tornado (1976 / trailer) and Petey Wheatstraw (1977 / trailer), and later on with the filmed live show, Rude (1982 / full show). Disco Godfather is the credited screen debut of Hawthorne James (of Heaven's Prisoners [1996 / trailer] and Hood of Horror [2006 / trailer]), as the film's bad guy Stinger Ray, and the un-credited (and unnoticeable) debut of genre icon Keith David (The Thing [1982 / trailer], They Live [1988 / trailer], Coraline , Pitch Black , and so much more) as a disco patron.
Why, after all his successful R-rated comedies, Rudy Ray Moore would decide to make a PG-rated anti-drug tract is a bit of a mystery, but that is what he did.
Juice People Unlimited —
Shermanizing/One Way Ticket To Hell:
"Instead of sticking to his winning formula Moore decided to make a crazy, PG-rated amalgamation of The French Connection (1971 / trailer), The Exorcist (1973), Saturday Night Fever (1977 / trailer) and the Japanese cult horror movie House (1977 / trailer below) that cast him not as the usual badass outlaw but rather as the ultimate square, a fucking COP of all things, (ambiguously retired) who retired from the force to run the Blueberry Hill disco and serve as its resident impresario, the boogying, badass, bizarrely naive Godfather of the Disco. Yes, the Disco Godfather, AKA Tucker the ambiguously retired cop, is living the sweet life until his beloved nephew Bucky (the towering Julius J. Carry [12 Mar 1952 – 19 Aug 2008], otherwise best known as the heavy in The Last Dragon [1985 / trailer]) has an angel dust freakout at his club. This leads the Disco Godfather on a fact-finding mission to learn more about the new urban plague known as 'Angel Dust.' [Nathan Rabin's Happy Place]"
"The eclectic film [...] is a strangely mesmerizing combination of comedy, drama, action and horror, peppered with disco music and a few dance numbers. [...] And it's not hard to figure out how the title was created. The disco craze was in full force at the time and Francis Ford Coppola's magnificent The Godfather (1972 / trailer) and The Godfather: Part II (1974 / trailer) were two of the most popular films of the 70s. [...] The film definitely capitalizes on many popular exploitation elements of the time such as drug use, violence and martial arts, but it distinguishes itself from other run of the mill exploitation films by carrying a very positive and important message. This is a film with an anti-drug message and you can clearly see that Rudy Ray Moore and the rest of the cast and crew were genuinely concerned about the junk that was polluting their neighborhoods. I believe that, amidst all the off-the-wall insanity in this movie, the filmmakers intentionally included this heartfelt message in the hopes of inspiring change. [...] This movie has heart. Now, having said that, is it a good movie in the classic filmmaking tradition? Hell no! Many viewers will find it difficult to watch and that's totally understandable. Nevertheless, it manages to be thoroughly entertaining. [Cinemaretro]"
Juice People Unlimited —
Film Threat, which thinks the film "too inhibited for its own good", nevertheless finds that "even though the film is more restrained than the unabashedly goofy Dolemite (1975 / trailer), Moore still brings the goods with a passionate, occasionally deranged performance. It's muffled for the majority of the film when he's in 'concerned citizen' mode, but in the final 20 minutes or so, the story goes off the rails — in a good way, like off the rails onto another set of sturdier, glossier rails. If Rod Serling ever had a bad trip, it might look a little like the psychological hall of mirrors that Tucker finds himself in. This entire sequence [...] fulfills every unspoken promise made by the film's absurd name and bargain bin aesthetic. In fewer words, it's hilarious. Until those final twenty minutes, however, the film comes off as a hipper than average afterschool special. [...]"
Most white reviewers also hate the disco music, but then, they are also white.
Juice People Unlimited —
"All of Rudy Ray Moore's movies from the 70s are bizarre, but Avenging Disco Godfather exceeds all of them in that department except maybe Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil's Son-in-Law. It's a film with a pronounced case of dissociative identity disorder, and its three alternate personalities are sharply in conflict at nearly all times. The title cues us to expect a ludicrous Blaxploitation take on the disco craze, and the attached film dutifully gives us just that. [...] However, this movie also gives us a barking-mad update of the old 1930's drug scare routine, a veritable Phencyclidine: The Horse Tranquilizer with Test Tubes in Hell. Avenging Disco Godfather is at least on firmer pharmacological ground than most of those films, since PCP (unlike pot) actually can induce the kinds of psychotic episodes beloved by dope-panic movies of all eras. [...] Then there's the exorcism at the hospital, which goes on in fits and starts throughout the film, seemingly whenever director and co-writer J. Robert Wagoner is at a loss for a scene transition. [...] And finally, there is yet another level at which Avenging Disco Godfather is a dark and gritty vendetta film in the Death Wish tradition, a depressing tale of a community succumbing to urban blight, and of one man's quixotic quest to arrest the corrosion. One major character commits a gruesome suicide, another is beaten to death in his bed after his dog is gutted, and the ending — which is the only moment when the three alters ever really put their heads together and agree on a course of action — is as miserable and downbeat as it is overblown and ridiculous. [1000 Misspent Hours]"
Disco Godfather —
The full movie:
"The United States and its horrible military have absolutely no rights in my life and they should stop attacking me."
Carol Speed at twitter (Feb 19, 2013)
(1997, writ. & dir. Quentin Tarantino)
The one that got away. Based on Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch, and made in the day when Q.T. still liked to pull forgotten cult actors and actress into his projects instead of just relying on Hollywood A-listers. Jackie Brown is also a star vehicle for two beloved actors who went through thick and thin: Pam Grier and Robert Forster (13 Jul 1941 – 11 Oct 2019).
Originally, Tarantino intended to give Carol Speed a guest appearance as well; she even showed up on set. Most online sites say she backed out at the last minute, but that doesn't jibe with what she says here at Carol Speed's Webpage at the William Girdler site: "While on the set of Jackie Brown, it was the day when Pam wasn't shooting. Was she spending her days off with Sid Haig again? After all, he was staying at a hotel in Hermosa Beach. Although on that sun shiny day, I felt great. I had on my favorite black knit Gucci suit. My body felt nice and tight from the exercise classes in Palm Springs. Quentin Tarantino told me I looked good. I chatted with Mario Van Peebles (he happened to be jogging on the beach); shared a lunch table and conversation with Samuel L. Jackson; rehearsed with Robert DiNero, but at the last minute, Quentin decided not to use me. I made money off of Jackie Brown, so I'm constantly promoting it."
Could be the scene didn't work, could be Carol Speed just wasn't any good, could be Tarantino picked up on Speed's subliminal dislike of Pam Grier evident in almost everything she has ever written or said about Grier, could be Speed was already traveling to a totally different planetary drum and he just didn't want to work with her.
Six years later, in any event, Ms Speed revealed to the world that "Carolyn Eisenhower Speed is the daughter of President/Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. Carolyn Eisenhower Speed was born at the Royal German Officers Compound in Berlin, Germany and flew from the Tempelhof International Airport with her father, President/Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower to Minter Field Air Base in Bakersfield, California USA. [Carol Speed Page]" And by 2009, she was having fun on twitter, where she was apt to tweet real gems like those peppering the R.I.P. Carol Speed blog entries here at a wasted life. Some are real doozies...
"The Nazi Third Reich were black & brown men. There has not ever been a white Nazi. White people have ever done is lie about their history."
Carol Speed at twitter (Feb 26, 2013)
(1999, dir. Albert & Allen Hughes)
"Priests need nuns, doctors need nurses — so ho's need pimps." C-Note
This self-financed documentary by the Hughes Brothers is listed on Carol Speed's imdb filmography, but it's a bit of a stretch: some scenes from The Mack (1973, see Part I) are used in this contentious documentary, and she is seen as the character she played in that movie, Lulu. But she is not a talking head in this documentary from Albert & Allen Hughes, the guys that gave us the decent debut Menace II Society (1993 / trailer), the much-maligned From Hell (2001 / trailer), and one of the weakest Denzel Washington films, The Book of Eli (2010 / trailer).
"An in-depth look at pimps and prostitution around the country. Various pimps are interviewed about their lifestyles, work, and relationships with 'their' prostitutes. A world in which men with names like Payroll, Charm, Fillmore Slim and Don 'Magic' Juan exude charisma on the level of faith healers or rock stars — and effortlessly 'make,' manage and exploit their 'hos' and 'bitches.' Candidly, cordially, using the blank-verse vernacular of their trade, these men confide their war stories. They flash thick bankrolls, expensive clothes and cars and parade their provocatively dressed stables of women in front of the camera. [Killer Reviews]"
You Got the Nerves of a Brass Monkey:
Not all people are impressed by the documentary: "American Pimp is probably the most virulent anti-African American movie since Al Jolson sang Mammy. The KKK could make a more positive film about Black men, which is so odd considering that Pimp is directed by two Black brothers, Albert and Allen Hughes [...]. Pimp is an act of cultural self-loathing. An equivalent film would be if Steven Spielberg directed The Stingy Jew. Pimp starts out with brief quips by white folk stopped on the street giving their opinions about how pimps are the scum of the Earth. Of course, they aren't asked what their opinions are about 'Black' pimps, just pimps in general. But, according to the Hughes, there is no such thing as a white pimp. One Black pimp they interview even says as much, 'Ain’t never met no white pimp.* They don't have the aptitude for this kind of business.' [...] There isn't a Black person interviewed in the movie who isn't a pimp or a ho or some relative. If all pimps are African-American, the film never places them within the context of Black society. The obvious implication being that even if not every Black man is a pimp, then at least every other one is. As one pimp says, 'I didn't grow up living next to a doctor. My role model was the pimp living next door.' Well, hey, no Black man raised in the ghetto will ever grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer or, hell, just have a legal job. The Hughes Brothers must have grown up in a white neighborhood. [Underground Film Journal]"
* Might be true, but doesn't mean that there isn't a totally bitchin' psycho white pimp exploitation film out there, namely Vice Squad (1982 / trailer).
"The Hughes brothers used as their pimp role models the feather-hatted, fur-coated, diamond ring-wearing, gold chain wearing, flashy Cadillac-cruising pimp of the late '70s Blaxploitation movies — like The Mack (1973, see Part I) and Willie Dynamite (1973 / trailer). Also used as reference was Iceberg Slim's best-seller Pimp, The Story of My Life. We meet pimps such as: Fillmore Slim, C-Note, Charm, K-Red, Gorgeous Dre, Bishop Don Magic Juan, and Rosebudd. They readily discuss their business arrangements: including percentages, lifestyles, knockin' (stealing another pimp's ho'), and the thrill they get from women giving them money. These dudes needed no prompting to talk, as they just love to brag about themselves. [...] The film was all about pimp style and their projected image, as they run a hard-sell riff about the virtues of their work. [...] The filmmakers were taken for a ride by the pimps, who were looking only to pose in front of the camera and say their thing. They were hungry for their 15-minutes of fame. [...] [Dennis Schwarz]."
Combustible Celluloid is a bit less negative: "American Pimp offers little in the way of other points of view, and we're not sure how much can be taken seriously. Only four prostitutes are interviewed, and two of them are not the brightest stars in the sky. Slightly more lucid is another prostitute, Jade, who works at Nevada's Bunny Ranch, run legally by a white man (who is also interviewed). The movie hints at the double standard here, but doesn't go into any depth. The film begins to discuss the history of pimping — tracing it back to the slave days — and how there are no white pimps, but these strands go nowhere. [...] But in the end, American Pimp is less a journalistic document than Hollywood entertainment, following in the footsteps of the funky anti-establishment Blaxploitation movement of the 1970's. It may not be entirely factual or revealing, but it's badass and funky and a lot of fun."
AV Club, on the other hand, may have found the documentary worth watching, but neither funky nor fun: "About halfway through American Pimp, a briskly entertaining yet disquieting documentary [...], a few of the 16 pimps surveyed from cities across the country are asked why prostitutes even require their services. [...] Of course, the truthful answer to the question is that hookers don't need them at all: Pimps are ruthless, predatory, exploitative men who rule by intimidation and leech off the labor of desperate, damaged women. Yet despite their indefensible occupation, the smooth-talking and charismatic lotharios go to great lengths to justify their existence, and the Hughes Brothers are smart enough to stand back while they dig their own hole. With such a hot-button subject, the Hugheses take a major risk by not making their own feelings clear [...]. Their implicit trust in the audience is a large part of what makes American Pimp so potently funny and disturbing, because it's left unguarded against the insidious charms of seasoned street hustlers. The players interviewed are diverse in age, experience, and locale, but after a while, they converge into the same honeyed voice, [...] and outfitted with conspicuously garish clothes and accessories, they're amusingly similar to the cartoonish pimp of popular imagination. But a few harrowing moments in which they drop their act for the camera and put prostitutes in line speak to a more chilling reality. American Pimp isn't perfect: It doesn't spend enough time with the women, and it leaves underdeveloped an intriguing point about race in the skin trade: that black men working the streets are pimps, while white men running brothels are businessmen. But as a unique foray into a world usually reserved for fiction films, American Pimp is uncompromised and eye-opening."
"I'm very tired of the Atlanta people trying to put cameras in my home and turning off my television."
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 9. 2013)
(2006, dir. Carl & Vivian Adams)
Twenty-seven years after her appearance in Disco Godfather and nine after her non-appearance in Jackie Brown, Carol Speed played the character "Cookie" in this independent regional production.
"Carol Speed [...] is a special guest star in Village Vengeance, a film produced by local filmmakers Carl Adams and wife Vivian Clark-Adams. Speed will play the role of Cookie in the film that stars Sheontel Scott and Jerome Bethea. The movie is based on Vengeance, a nonfiction short story about a serial rapist written by local author Ingrid Brown. [...] Production is wrapping up on Village Vengeance, which was also filmed on location in Muskogee and Bristow. [...] The couple [Carl Adams and Vivian Clark-Adams] have been making films since 2000 [...]. [12 Jul 2006, Tulsa World]"
We weren't able to locate the mentioned short story, but Ingrid Brown does seem to have written a small press novel also entitled Village Vengeance.
The plot, as found at Get DVD Prices: "While eating lunch with co-workers, a young woman recounts an incident, ten years earlier that impacted her for life — a face-to-face encounter with a serial rapist. She speaks of her continuing fears and the neighborhood that was terrorized by the rapist. Back to the present day — neither she nor the neighborhood have heard the last of this villain and the villain experiences quite a different response."
Carol Speed — R.I.P.