Thursday, December 04, 2014

Shaft: Richard Roundtree at the Virginia Film Festival

Richard Roundtree at UVA
After a screening of the 1971 Gordon Parks film, Shaft, at the 2014 Virginia Film Festival, actor Richard Roundtree (who created the role of detective John Shaft) was interviewed by University of Virginia historian John Mason, who also fielded questions for Roundtree from the audience.

Although Roundtree is rightly associated with Shaft -- he also starred in the sequels Shaft's Big Score and Shaft in Africa, as well as a TV series of the same name -- his TV credits include Roots, A Different World, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Desperate Housewives, while his film roles have included turns in Earthquake, Killpoint, Se7en (with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman), and Young Warriors, among others.

For those unfamiliar with the film -- which has been unfairly included as part of the 1970s' "Blaxploitation" genre -- one of the synopses on IMDB explains:
Private detective John Shaft is hired by Harlem mobster Bumpy Jonas to find his kidnapped daughter. Bumpy has no idea who might have taken her but isn't as forthcoming as he could be about his situation. When his first lead peters out - he thought it might be Black power advocates who took the girl - he acts on information from NYPD Lt. Vic Androzzi that outside mobsters are in town and might be trying to take over various illegal businesses in Harlem.
This conversation took place in UVA's Culbreth Theater on the opening night of this year's Virginia Film Festival, coincident with the November 6 world premiere of Big Stone Gap at the Paramount Theater downtown. 

The screening and ensuing discussion also coincided with an exhibition of Gordon Parks photographs at the University of Virginia's Fralin Museum of Art, which Mason and Roundtree viewed earlier in the day.

Roundtree talked about making the film in a wintry New York, the value of the film's music score (by Isaac Hayes, who won an Academy Award for the theme song), and advice for young actors getting their start in show business.

Sadly, my camera's battery died about five minutes before the discussion ended, but the bulk of it is preserved in this 35 minute video clip.

No comments: