directed by Arthur Marks
starring Glynn Turman, Louis Gossett Jr., Joan Pringle
The mid-‘70s brought us the glory days of Blaxplotaion films. The Hayes Code was history making nudity ok, Civil Rights marches brought minority actors and producers into the main stream, and shooting up bad guys never went out of style. We find all of this and more in J.D.’s Revenge with its mystical motivation and solid action elements. Mild-mannered Isaac Hendrix (Turman) and his wife Christella (Pringle) climb into an expanding black middle class through hard work and education in a pre-flood New Orleans. Out on the town with friends, they drop in for a hypnotist’s act; Isaac is infected with the ghost of J.D. Walker (McKnight), a war-time hustler and pimp. Ike dresses, talks and act like J.D., mystifying his wife and freaking out his friends. At this point the plot becomes involved, and it might take a re-watch or two to get everything straight.
Here we have a solid film filled with just the sort of action, social criticism and classic stereotypes to land it squarely in the center of the pack both in timing and in quality. While I can’t say this is a great film, it’s a thoroughly watchable one with good action, respectable dialog, and wonderful hair styles. Lou Gossett Jr. appears as the preacher who drives the devil out of Ike, and he sparkles against the backdrop of other actors. Ms. Pringle is the calm center here; although she takes most of J.D.s abuse, she still loves Ike. Turman’s best work comes when he’s fully infected: the pompadour, the bitch slapping attitude and the tendency to flick his razor open says to us: “Shut yo mouth!” Other noteworthy performances include Fred Pinkard as Rev. Theotis, Gossett’s partner in preaching, and David McKnight as oily J.D. Along with razor attack, wonderful hairstyles and hell raising preachers, the details of corrupt white policeman, large cars with bouncy suspension and the view of bourbon street in all its 1970’ glory take you to a time and place we’ve lost. You’re not going to see this because it’s a wonderful film, and you’re not going to see it’s a laughably bad film, but as a classic example of a genre that came and went quickly, but still sticks in your collective minds.