Friday, October 06, 2006

Missing Cleo...


Back in college days(part 1) one of my movie fantasies was Cleopatra Jones. Tamara Dobson was her real name. Tall, statuesque, beautiful. A movie goddess, black female James Bond kind of woman. Classy, sort of North Shore Hyde Parkish and kicked a little ass when she needed to. She did not have that earthy rough quality Pam Grier had as Coffy. Coffy would bust into a room with a sawed off shotgun and it was on. Everybody in the room is shot. Cleo was a good shot in the Deer Hunter mode. She picked her targets.

Like a preying mantis, Coffy would make love to you all night long and devour you for breakfast. You'd be lucky to get near Cleopatra's bedroom, you would be left in the vapors of her expensive perfume, eternally fantasizing. Coffy patrolled the community rolling on the end results of the international drug trade. Cleopartra Jone was working with international law enforcement taking out opium field in Asia and kicking big time rich drug supplier asses. They both had their places. I liked them both, but I figured I would not be taking Pam home, with that sawed off. Plus Cleo had a good job with benefits.

Tamara Dobson died last week. She was part ofthe intersection of Black action and martial arts films. Her character, Cleopatra Jones played right along with 5 fingers of Death and Master of the Flying Guillotine back in the days of all-day triple feature kung-fu films in the 1970s. She was one of the Top Ten characters in what was and still is considered Blaxploitation cinema. Her films were a but campy, not taken themselves too seriously and everybody seemed to be having a lot of fun.

I have a friend who gets very upsets when one of these old icons passes. She sees it as a sign of our own mortality. Well we all know mortality ain't forver so time to get over it and on with it. We are still here.

It was around this time, during the heyday of Kung-Fu and Black action films that John Keehan must have been getting very frustrated. Here he was on the cusp of it all and he got no rhythm. Maybe it was staying in Chicago, maybe he was trying to do it his way. John came along too early, Irish Catholic warring against his own typecasting only to consider the priesthood at near the end, so we have read.

Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, Bob Wall, even Aaron Banks got to be in films, John Keehan got the comic books, The end result, same difference. He is more of a mysterious underground pop icon, the heretofore eternal mystery. Still an icon of popular culture nonetheless. I wonder if Cleo ever bought World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets.

R.I.P. Tamara.

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