Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


FOXY: MY LIFE IN THREE ACTS A Memoir. Pam Grier with Andrea Cagan. Springboard; 2010.

Actress Pam Grier came to prominence in the seventies when she appeared in a number of popular "blaxpoitation" pictures such as Coffy and Foxy Brown. The only flaw in this otherwise excellent memoir is that she doesn't discuss those films very much [perhaps because they were not exactly cinematic masterpieces] nor her attitude toward the movies that gave black actors jobs but were often considered inherently racist with their stereotypes and negative depictions. Grier prefers to see the movies as depicting empowered [i.e. tough] female characters, but one wishes she had included a few on-set anecdotes and the like. [She does write about working on her early "women in prison" films that were made in the Philippines.] However, Grier does write very compellingly of her childhood and youth [when she was raped by cousins], her work on Jackie Brown [which Quentin Tarantino wrote with her in mind] and on the cable TV show The L Word, about lesbians, in which she played a straight character. She also describes her several unfortunate relationships with men: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who expected her to adhere to the outrageously sexist tenets of his Islamic religion; Freddie Prinze, who had a serious drug problem that led to his early death; a black man who virtually abandoned her when she developed cancer; and a white man who claimed his attraction to women of color wasn't a fetish but who ultimately couldn't see her as his wife because she didn't belong to the "country club" set. There are horrifying passages about her sister's painful death; her husband insisted she stick to their religious principals and she wasn't even allowed painkillers -- her 15-year-old son was so upset the poor boy committed suicide. Grier intelligently writes of the need for women to be themselves and make it on their own so they are not hung up by bad choices made by the men who supposedly want to "take care of them." Many books written by "B" or "C" list celebrities aren't worth the paper they're printed on, but Foxy is an exception and is a very worthwhile read.

Verdict: Absorbing and entertaining. ***1/2.

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