Skip to main content

Scenitunes: Shaft and a Whole Lot of Reggae

Remembering "Shaft"

Getting to Know Charles Pitts (1947-2012)

The movie "Shaft" (1971) is considered the most famous of a loosely defined film genre that was criticized into oblivion for misrepresenting black Americans.
The short-lived genre which is dubbed Blaxploitation belongs to what is known as exploitation movies which are characterized by low budget and exaggerated sensational rendering that is meant to pique the audience.
Other than exploiting themes of black American culture, exploitation movies are recently linked to several of Quentin Tarantino's movies such "Death Proof"(2007) which was a Carsploitation movie. Blaxploitation is obviously a term that combines black and exploitation. Yet many of these 'cheap' movies have earned critical attention and some are technically good. The movie "Shaft" at least identified with an unprecedented musical technique for composing a soundtrack which employed the agreeable distorting sound of the Wah Wah, a pedal that is attached to the electric guitar.
This special effect improvised by Charles Pitts drew the attention of the soundtrack maker for the movie,late Isaac Hayes, during rehearsals and made him insist on it. He was later proven right in anticipating the stunning impact of these distorted sounds in the opening scenes of the movie "Shaft". What was described by its maker as "I was just trying to tune my guitar" went on to win the Shaft theme the Acadmy Award for Best Original Song in 1972!
But who made this riff that entered the movie "Shaft" into the dear recesses of American pop culture?
The man whose obituary I stumbled upon on a friend's web page was the well-known soul and blues guitarist Charles Pitts. He died in May of this year of lung cancer. RIP Charles "Skip" Pitts. Special thanks to Taj Malick!
Note On the Movie "Shaft":
This 1971 movie features actor Richard Roundtree as detective John Shaft and tells about violence and gangs. "John Shaft first finds himself up against Bumby (Moses Gunn), the leader of the Black crime mob, then against Black nationals, and finally working with both against the White Mafia who are trying to blackmail Bumby by kidnapping his daughter." Wrote John Vogel in the IMDb web site.
"Shaft" was written by Ernest Tidyman and others. It was directed by Gordon Parks (1912-2006).
Gordon Parks
Parks was an acclaimed photographer for Life magazine before he turned into a movie director. "In 1989 his first film effort, "The Learning Tree" (1969) was selected among the first 25 films so honored by the U.S. Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry for all time." source IMDb.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)- September 6-16 2012 has many great
feature in store for Torontonian and visiting movie fans. Among the attending stars will be Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman (directing Quartet) and many more of the shining actors and filmmakers. Among the movies we will watch "Looper" a futuristic thriller by the American Rian Johnson, Joe Wright's epic "Anna Karenina", Mike Newell's adaptation of Dicken's "Great Expectations" and Deepa Mehta's adaptation of Salman Rushdie's novel "Midnight's Children". More than sixty movies are to be screened in 32 theaters in downtown Toronto.
Among the documentaries there is "This definitive new documentary "Marley" on the life and legend of Bob Marley, made with the support of the Marley family, and featuring rare footage, incredible performances and revelatory interviews with the people that knew him best."
Note On Bob Marley:
Bob Marley's universal appeal, impact on music history and role as a social and political prophet is both unique and unparalleled. "Marley" is the definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary, and legend, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom. (Adapted from Artinfo Canada)

RIP Bob Marley


  1. After looking over a few of the blog articles on your site, I
    seriously appreciate your technique of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future.
    Please visit my web site too and tell me your opinion.
    Check out my website to get more info about car insurance in California, if you like.
    Feel free to visit my weblog :


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

MovieGlobe: Japan's Version of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet (2007) JapanOriginal Article by: Fateh Mirghani-Japan

I have just finished watching the masterpiece of Shakespeare” Romeo and Juliet “in its Japanese version.
The quality of the movie is great and the soundtrack, injected with a little Japanese folklore music, has given it a sensational dimension and Eastern fascination!
Basically, the theme of the movie remains the same as the original play, and that has been a particular Japanese notion in dealing with other nations’ cultural products. Part of the reason may lay in Japan's sensitivity to other nations’cultural products- given the long standing historical disputes with its neighbours, and part of it may lay in a fierce sense of homogeneity that has come to characterize Japan as an island nation-state since time immemorial. Thus the Japanese, unlike the Americans, don’t seem to have the temerity to ‘Japanize’ others’ cultural stuff. The movie “Renaissance man”  can be cited as an example of American boldness. The …

Thursday Evening

Short Story by Ali Elmak* Translated by MM
Getting off the tram, he slipped. Was it the right or the left foot that skidded? It did not matter!  All that mattered really, all that he cared for at that hour, at that moment, was that he fell and soiled his pants. those characteristically beautiful white pants which he had preserved for Thursday evenings; for the soiree gatherings which started by hanging around in the market; loitering for short or long periods; then to the cinema house; any film and peace be upon him. Then, was this bad luck or what? Did he really need to take the tram for such a short distance? “That was a fair reward for your laziness” he said to himself. As for those pants, they were turned into a dusty colored thing. The more he shook those tiny particles off, the closer they became attached to the pants. Oh what a gloomy evening for you!  "Is this what concerned you?" thought he.

The posters of Alan Ladd and Van Heflin still stood their, at the cinema entrance.…

Movie Critic Review: Zorba The Greek (1964)

" All right, we go outside where God can see us better." Alexis Zorba "God has a very big heart but there is one sin he will not forgive; [slaps table] if a woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go. I know because a very wise old Turk told me." Alexis Zorba

Zorba (Anthony Quinn) with a lascivious look lays the gentle order, 'Two beds Madam. Without bugs!' Mme Hortense defiantly tilts her head and answers proudly, 'Mme has not THE bugs!'

The bookish intellectual Basil  (Alan Bates) who has appeared unaffected by the collective vertigo experienced on the boat taking them to Crete, did not seem interested in this outward and stimulated first-time exchange between his newly-found companion, a robust natural philosopher named Alexis Zorbas and this old lady who rushed  to offer them her hospitality services in her own (Marriot) of a dilapidated house on this island of pathos and the poor. Mme Hortense then treats the c…