Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Shaft (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Shaft (1971)

In Gordon Parks' definitive blaxploitation film:

  • the opening credits sequence beginning with an aerial shot of NYC skyscrapers, when the camera sharply dipped down into the metropolitan streets below, and in a tracking shot located four tawdry 42nd Street theatre marquees (displaying the double-billed features of The Scalphunters (1968) and Rough Night in Jericho (1967), Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1970) and Barbarella (1968, Fr./It.), the offbeat Italian film He and She (1969, It.) and the thriller The Animal (1968), and two sexploitation films: School for Sex (1969, UK) and the independent film The Wild Females (1968)); suddenly, the title "SHAFT" zoomed out from the center of the frame, the theme song began to pound, and the camera focused on the appearance of sexy and cool black private detective John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) in a dark brown midi-coat, who was emerging from an underground subway onto the street; he was first seen from an overhead view, then from an impressive lower angled close-up of his face, before he crossed the street and proceeded down a sidewalk
  • the stirring Isaac Hayes Oscar-winning introductory theme song, with provocative lyrics: "Who's the black private dick That's a sex machine with all the chicks? (Shaft) You're damn right Who is the man That would risk his neck for his brother man? (Shaft) Can you dig it? Who's the cat that won't cop out When there's danger all about? (Shaft) Right on..."
  • Shaft's "sex machine" womanizing one-night stand with Linda (Margaret Warncke), including a shared shower
  • the final daring rescue scene of Marcy Jonas (Sherri Brewer) in a hotel room where she was held captive


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