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Max Julien, star of cult Blaxploitation film, dies at 88


Melvin Van Peebles had set the tone with “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”, his independent box office hit from 1971 on a performer of a sex show that became revolutionary. Gordon Parks’ “Shaft”, less transgressive but still very popular, appeared the same year.

By the end of the 1970s, the blaxploitation category had fizzled out. A decade later, young moviegoers and hip-hop artists were devouring VHS tapes of “The Mack” and other gems from that era – a mine of films with powerful black images that also included “Super Fly” and “Black. Caesar “.

“Because of Hollywood racism,” said Dr. Boyd, “back then there just wasn’t much else. And the story of an underworld figure like Goldie, working outside the system, hugely attracted young rising stars of a new musical genre, gangsta rap.

Mr. Julien also worked as a screenwriter. “Cleopatra Jones” (1973), which he wrote, featured a different kind of hero, on the right side of the law. It featured the statuesque Tamara Dobson as a swirling model of martial arts and martial arts armed with machine guns and an undercover agent on a mission to rid her community of drugs. (Shelley Winters played a drug kingpin named Mommy.)

He also wrote “Thomasine & Bushrod”, a slightly feminist western, released in 1974, and performed there with Vonetta McGee, his girlfriend at the time. The film is reminiscent of a softer, more wacky version of the 1967 film “Bonnie & Clyde”. Mr. Julien said he was inspired by the exploits of a great-grandfather, a bank robber named Bushrod, to turn his family story into a love story.

Maxwell Julien Banks was born July 12, 1933 in Washington. His father, Seldon Bushrod Banks, was a line engineer. Her mother, Cora (Page) Banks, was a restaurateur. She was murdered in her home in 1972 and Mr. Julien said her grief over her death influenced her performance in “The Mack”.


Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds