Gordon Parks (The Learning Tree) directed this 1971 detective story about John Shaft (Richard Roundtree), an African American private eye who has a rocky relationship with cops, an even rockier one with Harlem gangsters, and a healthy sex life. The script finds Shaft tracking down the kidnapped daughter of a black mobster, but the pleasure of the film is the sum of its attitude, Roundtree's uncompromising performance, and the thrilling, Oscar-winning score by Isaac Hayes. Parks seems fond of certain detective genre clichés (e.g., the hero walking into his low-rent office and finding a hood waiting to talk with him), but he and Roundtree make those moments their own. Shaft had a couple of sequels and a follow-up television series, but none had the impact this movie did. --Tom Keogh
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