Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
"Shaft" follows formula
Cleveland Press August 7, 1971
"Shaft" is is playing at local theaters. Detective story; adults. In the cast are Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn, Charles Cioffi. Running time: 100 minutes.
"Shaft" is formula private eye drama except that it is all black. Robert Roundtree is introduced as the black private detective who is as tough and glamourous and romantic as any of his white predecessors.
He's depicted as kind of black Bogart-Bond -- tough, able to pick up information all over, enjoying brief interludes with several women and coming on like the Marines when it comes to shooting and punching.
HE HAS BEEN hired by a Harlem drug king (Moses Gunn) to find his kidnapped daughter. The girl was grabbed by a Mafia group that is muscling in.
Shaft is aided, but reluctantly, by a white police lieutenant (Charles Cioffi) who wants to head off a gang war that might look to ordinary citizens like a race war.
Plotting is fairly straight away and easy to follow, if not always believable. Plans are already underway for a second in a series of Shaft movies.
ROUNDTREE is virile looking but barely adequate as an actor. Gunn and Cioffi give some dimension to their roles and at those moments to the picture. Language is about as much as language comes in these movies.
For the young trade, have the kids to wait until it shows up on television. A second version of several scenes were shot when the movie was made with TV in mind.