Ten Miles of Bad Road

Cleopatra Jones is not your average blaxploitation flick. Coffy was deliberately released first in order to compete with the idea of an action movie starring a strong black woman. The idea became more popular thanks to the Black Power and feminist movements of the 1970’s. Cleopatra Jones is essentially a black female James Bond, but she has her own unique identity. Tamara Dobson is a 6 ft. tall supermodel who wears several exotic fur coats and colorful hats. Although she sports an afro, Dobson’s hair is often wrapped up. Cleo is a federal agent who works for “the Man,” but supports her black brothers and sisters at the same time.

Similar to Bond, Cleo travels to exotic locations and keeps an arsenal of guns in her car. Cleopatra Jones isn’t exactly a comedy, but they know not to take it too seriously. Which is probably why Cleo knows martial arts. Unlike most other blaxploitation flicks, Cleopatra Jones is surprisingly PG with no gratuitous nudity. Tamara Dobson was a beautiful woman, but she refused to do nude scenes. Bernie Casey plays her lover Reuben who runs a B&S drug recovery house and supports her crusade. It’s a more realistic portrayal, but the villain is still pretty over-the-top.

Oscar winner Shelley Winters plays loud, fat, white drug lord Mommy who berates her male henchmen and has lesbian tendencies. Antonio Fargas is another gangster named Doodlebug that she offs when he turns against her. Leaving Cleo to team up with kung fu proficient brothers Matt and Mel Johnson in order to take Mommy down. Dirty Harry franchise actor Albert Popwell plays the former. The final confrontation is at a junkyard where the whole community gets involved. Cleo is so powerful that her white commanding officer can’t help but to join the movement. Cleopatra Jones is a rare blaxploitation flick that can appeal to a wider audience.

Cleopatra Jones

Cleopatra Jones on a motorcycle

Followed by: Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold

4 thoughts on “Ten Miles of Bad Road

  1. TCM had this on a while back and I’m kicking myself for missing it, the premise was so enticing. A gritty version of James Bond sounds really cool. Tamara Dobson is an underrated action starlet IMHO, she and Pam Grier would’ve made a great duo had someone thought of teaming them up. Being 6 foot even kinda hurt Dobson a little I think, not sure if producers were intimidated by her or what, but she never did get the opportunities Grier did which is a shame.

    Liked by 1 person

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