Pam Grier, Rudy Challenger, Austin Stoker, Dick Merrifield and D'Urville Martin DIRECTED BY
William Girdler SCREENPLAY
W. Girdler MPAA RATING
Rated PG RUNNING TIME
90 Mins. Plus Features DISTRIBUTED BY
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) SPECIAL PRESENTATION EXTRAS
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary with producer-screenwriter David Sheldon, moderated by critic Nathaniel Thompson
Sheldon: Baby – a brand new interview with David Sheldon
Pam Grier: The AIP Years – a look over the wonder years of the Blaxploitation queen with film historian Chris Poggiali
Gallery featuring rare publicity images and Lobby Cards
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
Booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Patty Breen, webmaster of WilliamGirdler.com, illustrated with archive stills and posters
There's not much more awful as a film critic than that moment when you are cleaning out your DVD/Blu-ray area of your office or home and stumble across a handful of submitted yet unreviewed films just waiting for your attention. It's doubly worse when the film involves Arrow Video, a U.K. based distributor of classic, horror and cult films on Blu-ray and DVD. I suppose you could call them the U.K.'s version of Criterion, though Arrow tends to focus more of their attention on alternative cinema.
In short, I love them. They take films that many don't think deserve a second glance and make you pay attention to them.
This is the case with this Arrow Video release, available in both U.K. and U.S. formats, of Pam Grier's Blaxploitation flick from 1975, Sheba, Baby, a William Girdler production starring Grier as Sheba Shayne, a Chicago-based private detective called back to her hometown of Louisville to stop one bad motherf***er of a mob boss played by Dolemite's D'Urville Martin who wants to move in on her father's loan business. Aided by her father's partner, Brick (Austin Stoker, Assault on Precinct 13), she quickly realizes the mob boss isn't going anywhere without a fight.
So, she fights.
There's a couple things that are immediately true here. First, despite appearing in her share of B-movies and simply not so great ones, Grier has always made every film she's in a better film. When you add Arrow Video to the equation? You get a film that's decidedly more fun than when it was originally released with a wealth of Blu-ray and DVD extras to satisfy fans of Grier and Arrow Films fans.
Considered by many to be the first female action star, Pam Grier is the kind of actress who immediately makes funs of cult cinema swoon with her mixture of coolness, badassness (I swear that's a word!) and also her ultimate sexiness.
Sheba, Baby isn't the best flick - not by a long shot. The plot holes in the film are immense and the film's PG-rating, even for the time period, is an almost tragic waste of Grier's action chops and a remarkable departure from other fare like Foxy Brown. However, most problems with Sheba, Baby belong solely to the film's director who just didn't use Grier in a way that truly satisfies.
Sheba, Baby is still worth a view. Heck, it's got way too many top notch extras to completely ignore. Yet, it's more a release for the hardcore Grier fan than the person wondering what all the fuss is about with this Pam Grier. If you're unfamiliar with the Blaxploitation films, this isn't the one to start with but it's a film you'll want to check out before you're all done with the scene.