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What It Is... What It Was!; The Black Film Explosion of the '70s in Words and Pictures Paperback – October, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax Books; 1st edition (October 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786883774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786883776
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,232,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ever since 1970s black activists coined the derogatory label blaxploitation to describe the likes of Sweet Sweetback's BaadAsssss Song, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, and Mandingomovies full of snappy street patter, outrageous pimp suits, and comic-book-style action--debate has raged over whether they are valid popular artwork or just demeaning. Most of the actors, writers, and directors interviewed for this book--'70s veterans like Melvin Van Peebles, Pam Grier, and Fred Williamson as well as current stars Ice-T, Samuel L. Jackson, and Keenan Ivory Wayans--disagree with the label. Their remarks are copiously accompanied by publicity posters for the controversial films. The garish graphics are intended to be the volume's main attraction, according to the introduction, and dating from a time when their kind of thing was still painted rather than assembled from photographs, they're pretty nifty, all right. But the text, especially the contributions of the stars of the blaxploitation genre, makes this a special bit of film history. Mike Tribby

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Finally, at last, thank God! This book is way overdue. This is also the first book ever to cover the artwork of Blaxploitation films. The contents are amazing and you'll be shocked (as I was) by how many films of this films there were. There are 200 posters in this book alone and there are even more not covered here. This book is also great for Graphic Designers in any field. It is designed beautifully and the poster art (from the collections of Ron Finly, Mathieu Bitton and Quentin Tarantino, who published the book) is great inspiration. You'll also read great stories about the films from interviews with Pam "Coffy" Grier, Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, Melvin "Sweetback" Van Peebles, William "Blacula" Marshall, Samuel L. Jackson and many more. Basically, this is the best book I've seen this year and the best I've ever seen on the genre. For the price, you can't not get it! Enjoy and tell a friend as more books like these need to come out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Finally, at last, thank God! This book is way overdue. This is also the first book ever to cover the artwork of Blaxploitation films. The contents are amazing and you'll be shocked (as I was) by how many films of this films there were. There are 200 posters in this book alone and there are even more not covered here. This book is also great for Graphic Designers in any field. It is designed beautifully and the poster art (from the collections of Ron Finly, Mathieu Bitton and Quentin Tarantino, who published the book) is great inspiration. You'll also read great stories about the films from interviews with Pam "Coffy" Grier, Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, Melvin "Sweetback" Van Peebles, William "Blacula" Marshall, Samuel L. Jackson and many more. Basically, this is the best book I've seen this year and the best I've ever seen on the genre. For the price, you can't not get it! Enjoy and tell a friend as more books like these need to come out.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By eva m. lavelle on March 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Great book about the 70's black movies. I thought I seen them all but this book talked about movies I did'nt know about but would like to see, if I could just find all the videos! The art work alone is worth the price of the book! If you plan or get invited to a 70's party use this book as a guide to get that true afropicking,bellbottom,platform shoe wearing look.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This hefty 208 page and about 11" x 8.5", book is loaded with fantastic Blaxploitation movie poster artwork. Most of the pictures range from a quarter of a page to full page (and there are lots of full page posters which are just super cool) and this is what drew me to this book. I've bought probably six or eight books on the subject and this one is the one to get if you're looking for great images.

After the introduction, the book proceeds to tell us more about what we're looking at with a section called THE ART OF THE POSTER with lots of great info provided by Ron Finley, John Solie and Walt Reed (about a dozen or so pages). Then it's the really fun part with THE FILM EXPLOSION where we get a few pages each from various folks from in front of and behind the camera, some who made them and others who were inspired by them. The complete list of contributors in this section are (in order) Melvin Van Peebles, William Marshall, Pam Grier, David Walker, Roscoe Orman, Roger Corman, John Singleton, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Fred Williamson, Arthur Marks, Kevin Hooks, Gloria Hendry, Reginald Hudlin, Robert Townsend, Rudy Ray Moore, Jack Hill, Cheryl Dunye, Isaac Hayes, Robert Louis Stevenson, Carol Speed, Ice-T, Samuel L. Jackson, Glynn Turman and Quentin Tarantino. Their stories are fun and informative. What follows is a brief filmography. Scattered throughout all of this are beautiful color images (there's barely a B&W pic in the book) of vintage movie posters.

Content-wise this is a great book for movie posters and hearing from the cats who made the pictures. It's a trip down memory lane for fans who grew up with these films. I really dug it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
WHAT IT IS... TAKES US THROUGH THE MINDS OF SOME THE 70'S HIGHLIGHTED BLAXPLOITATION CELEBRITIES. A MUST HAVE FOR MOVIE BUFFS!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Saul D on June 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was expecting this kind of book because I'm now deep into Blaxploitation era, but also curious about Black movements of the 60ies and 70ies. In a way I learned a lot of things. A big deception is Ron O' Neal (aka Priest in "Superfly") isn't there, and the authors could also have gotten Tamara Dobson, James Brown, the late Curtis Mayfield and Willie Hutch. But that's life ! A big book, great value for me
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