When President Reagan’s FCC overturned the Hollywood Antitrust Case of 1948, which forbade film studios from owning theaters, it changed the way pictures were produced, distributed and exhibited in the United States.
Giant conglomerates swallowed up studios and began producing movies to tie in with their theme parks and merchandising outlets. Motion pictures became trailers for the ride, the toys, the CDs, the games. Hollywood no longer made films; it was selling a product, and the product was bland and inoffensive.
In the midst of this there still emerged a handful of films that knew how to bite the hand that fed them. While their competitors dodged satire, politics and social comment, these films embraced those qualities and, when appropriate, stuck it straight to the man.
In an era where studios frown upon subversive ideas and filmmakers are discouraged from allowing their personalities to shine on film, it’s encouraging to find movies with greater than ambition than to cater to the lowest common denominator.
Here are ten of them...
Sticking it to The Man was at the heart of Blaxploitation pictures but this knowing spoof goes one better and has its lead character follow a deadly trail that leads all the way to the White House.
Inspired by such Blaxploitation icons as Richard Roundtree and Fred Williamson, Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) is your typical ex-Vietnam vet/ former CIA operative/ one-man army who uncovers a sinister plot involving Anaconda Malt Liquor, which has been formulated to shrink the manhood of African-American men.
Who could be behind such a diabolical scheme? Why, it’s none other than President Richard Nixon, who Black Dynamite takes down in a kung fu fight inside the Oval Office.
The movie’s plot owes a debt to Three The Hard Way (1974), where Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly try to stop a neo-Nazi from adding a serum lethal only to African-Americans to the water supply. Though played straight, the story also served as the basis for another spoof, 2002’s Undercover Brother.