Super Fly (1972): Gordon Parks Blaxploitation Crimer, Starring Ron O’Neal

Gordon Parks Jr. directed Super Fly, a popular blaxploitation crime drama, starring Ron O’Neal as Youngblood Priest, an African American cocaine dealer who is trying to quit the underworld business.

The younger Parks followed in his father’s footsteps after his father had success with the first blaxploitation hit movie, Shaft (1971).

 

Super Fly
Superfly poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

The soundtrack was written and produced by soul musician Curtis Mayfield.

O’Neal reprised his role as Youngblood Priest in the 1973 film Super Fly T.N.T., which he also directed.

Producer Sig Shore directed a second sequel, The Return of Superfly, released in 1990, with Nathan Purdee as Priest.

Youngblood Priest (O’Neal), an African-American drug dealer, enjoys luxurious lifestyle in Harlem, but he wants to go straight, despite the money.

One day, Priest confronts Fat Freddie about money he owes, threatening to force Freddie’s wife into prostitution unless he robs a competitor. Although the timid Freddie abhors violence, he agrees and accompanies another member of Priest’s “family” of lower-level dealers to commit the robbery.

A remake was released in 2018.

Super Fly was the highest-grossing blaxploitation film at the time, earning over $30 million against a budget of $0.5 million.

Parks made only four pictures.  He was killed with three others when their airplane crashed after takeoff near Nairobi, where they had gone to shoot a film.  He was 44.

Warner released the DVD version on January 14, 2004, the day its star, Ron O’Neal, died after battling cancer.

Note:

TCM showed the movie on Feb 18, 2021.