Super Fly (film)

Super Fly (film)

Infobox Film
name = Super Fly

caption = "Super Fly" film poster
director = Gordon Parks Jr.
producer = Sig Shore
writer = Phillip Fenty
narrator =
starring = Ron O'Neal Sheila Frazier Julius Harris Charles McGregor
music = Curtis Mayfield
cinematography = James Signorelli
editing = Bob Brady
distributor = Warner Bros.
released = flagicon|USA July 1, 1972
runtime = 93 min.
country = USA
language = English
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by = Super Fly T.N.T.
website =
amg_id = 1:47859
imdb_id = 0069332

"Super Fly" is a 1972 blaxploitation film directed by Gordon Parks, Jr., and stars Ron O'Neal as Youngblood Priest, a drug dealer who is trying to quit the underworld drug business.

This film is known for its soundtrack, written and produced by soul singer Curtis Mayfield (see "Super Fly (soundtrack)"). "Super Fly" is one of the few films ever to have been outgrossed by its soundtrack.

The film's glorification of drug dealers serves to subtly critique the civil rights movement’s failure to provide better economic opportunities for black America. The portrayal of a black community controlled by drug dealers serves to highlight that the initiatives of the civil rights movement were far from fully accomplished. [ Diawara, Manthia. “Homeboy Cosmopolitan.” In Search of Africa, 252. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.]

Plot summary

Priest (Ron O'Neal) is an up-and-coming successful cocaine dealer in New York City. On his way to a meeting point in Harlem early one morning he is mugged by two junkies. Priest beats one up and gives chase to the other where he gets his money back and kicks him in an apartment. Priest then goes to meet his partner in crime, Eddie (Carl Lee), who is playing craps downtown, to discuss his future plans. The pair go back to Eddie's apartment where Priest tells Eddie he wants out of the business but wants to make one last big score and to make one million dollars in four months. Eddie, who tries to talk him out of it as he loves the lifestyle, reluctantly goes along with Priest's ambitions and the pair agree to make one last big score.

After Eddie leaves, Fat Freddie and Nate Adams (Priest's main dealers) turn up at his apartment to make their payments. Fat Freddie is short and doesn't have his money. Priest warns him that either he is going to get his money by robbing someone or he will put his wife out on "whore's row". Priest gives them a gun and the pair go out to rob a mafia member after they follow him to New Jersey. Priest meets Eddie at Scatter's restaurant (Julius Harris). After watching the band play (The Curtis Mayfield Experience), the two go into the kitchen to discuss business with Scatter. Priest tells Scatter his plans and that he needs him to provide him with '30 keys'(30 kilograms) of coke. Scatter, who has retired from the cocaine business, gets frustrated at them and tells them he can not help. Eddie angers Scatter by threatening him and Scatter puts a gun to his head. Scatter then agrees to supply Priest the 30 keys. The trio agree to a meeting time and Priest and Eddie leave to meet Fat Freddie and Nate. Freddie has Priest's money from the successful holdup and the three of them talk over a beer. Priest accidentally reveals to Freddie and Nate that he is picking up one key of coke from Scatter. Priest then goes home to a romantic evening with his girlfriend, Georgia (Sheila Frazier).

The following day, Freddie is arrested in Harlem for assault and is questioned by narcotics detectives (cocaine was found on him) who beat him into a confession. Freddie rats out Priest and Eddie and tells the police that there are around 50 family members (dealers) and that Priest and Eddie are picking up a key of coke that night from Scatter (who pays off the same detectives). Freddie is released but tries to escape outside the police precinct and is hit by a car and killed. Meanwhile Priest and Georgia are in Central Park discussing Priest's ambitions in getting out and leaving New York and taking her with him.

Later that night, Priest and Eddie go to pick up one key of coke from Scatter but the detectives are waiting. Alerted, Priest walks away but one of the detectives follows him down a dark street were Priest is ambushed and held at gun point with Eddie who was already arrested. The detectives make a deal with the pair and tell them they can operate but must make payments of $10,000 a month. Priest obviously is uncomfortable with this but Eddie happily agrees saying that 'the man' is on our side.

The pair then goes on to sell a kilo of cocaine, which is shown in a classic photo montage scene with 'Pusherman' playing. Priest and Eddie arrive in a bar in Harlem to meet a potential buyer. While they are waiting, three black activists approach them who are trying to shake Priest down for money for their cause. Priest demands they leave as he has a meeting and will not be lured into their scam. Their buyer arrives and samples the cocaine and agrees to make a deal and to 'get it on!'

Priest is at Cynthia's apartment, his other girlfriend who is from Manhattan and has corporate contacts. Priest is unsure about staying with her and the pair has an argument. Scatter arrives at the apartment with information about 'The Man' and asks Priest for $20,000 in cash as he must leave town. After Scatter leaves, he is arrested by the narcotics detectives. The police no longer need Scatter and dispose of him in his Rolls Royce with a large dose of heroin to shut him up. Priest learns of this, and suspecting something is wrong, meets with two mafia contractors in a café to discuss business. Although words are not said, it is clear that Priest is asking them for a contract for murder. This is his insurance policy.

Priest arrives at Eddie's apartment and discusses the murder of Scatter. Telling him the news that he was killed by the police, Priest suggests foul play and that the police were behind it in order to use him and Eddie to make larger buys and to stay in business. Priest demands his half of the money and wants to get out. Eddie tells him that he can't do anything else, especially pimpin' as he doesn't have the 'stomach' for it. Eddie gives him his share and then calls the detectives and tells them that Priest has left with a briefcase full of money. Priest then exchanges his briefcase in the elevator with Georgia who is in disguise. By the time he arrives to his car, the police have arrived. They detain him until the narcotics detectives come and then they all leave. Priest watches Georgia leave with his money knowing it's safe.

Priest is then escorted to the waterfront where Deputy Commissioner Riordan (Sig Shore) is waiting for him. Riordan, who is running the extortion racket, chastises Priest for wanting to leave the business as tells him he will be "nothing more than another two bit black junkie." A fight breaks out and Priest uses his karate skills to overcome the detectives. Riordan then pulls his gun and the fighting stops. Priest then explains he has placed a murder contract on Riordan and his family if any harm comes to him from the police. He tells him that he's smarter than those other "niggers" and that he has contracted the best killers there are, "White ones, baby! White ones!" Riordan claims that Priest doesn't have any money for something like that as they open his briefcase. Dirty clothes fall out and Priest claims that doing his laundry will not help. Priest then hops into his customized Cadillac Eldorado and drives off, victorious.

At the beginning of Super Fly, the movie is filmed in a manner that uses long takes and wide camera angles. This creates many powerful effects throughout the movie. In one of the opening shots of the movie, the audience sees the street corner as if they were looking down on it from a rooftop; it is fully in color, very lifelike, and rapidly moving with people and cars. As the camera shifts its focus from the street scene and zooms in on the meeting between the two men, a more direct narrative is created. It is from this point on that “a classic linear narrative develops from one long take to another, the camera voyeuristically documenting the journey of the two men in the crowd.” [Diawara, Manthia. “Homeboy Cosmopolitan.” In Search of Africa, 237-76. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.] To further add to the unique narrative, the films editing is rhythmically motivated by the main song in the soundtrack sung by Curtis Mayfield. [] "His voice makes you feel like a warrior, or just makes you feel invulnerable" states Diawara. The soundtrack album gives a realistic portrait of urban life and drug dealing without ever resorting to knee-jerk moralizing or clear anti-drug messages. This is what primarily what gives the album its appeal. It's just a more intelligent and down to earth record than most of those released as Soul during the era. Musically, it also leaps and bounds among the competition which influenced much more of the gangster rap. [Diawara, Manthia. “Homeboy Cosmopolitan.” In Search of Africa, 237-76. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.]


*Ron O'Neal .... Youngblood Priest
*Carl Lee .... Eddie
*Sheila Frazier .... Georgia (as Shiela Frazier)
*Julius Harris .... Scatter
*Charles McGregor .... Fat Freddie (as Charles MacGregor)
*Nate Adams .... Dealer
*Polly Niles .... Cynthia
*Yvonne Delaine .... Mrs. Freddie
*Henry Shapiro .... Robbery Victim
*K.C. .... Pimp
*James G. Richardson .... Junkie (as Jim Richardson)
*Make Bray .... Junkie
*Al Kiggins .... Police
*Bob Bonds .... Police
*Fred Rolaf AKA Fred Ottaviano .... Police
*Alex Stevens .... Police
*Harry Manson .... Police
*Floyd Levine .... Police
*Mike Richards (actor) .... Deputy Commissioner Reardon
*Chris Arnett .... Coke Buyer
*Cecil Alonzo .... Militant
*Gene Chambers .... Militant
*John Williams .... Militant
*E. Preston Reddick .... Karate Instructor
*Lorraine Horn .... Mother In Apartment
*Nick Sands .... Contracted Man
*Bob Richards .... Contracted Man
*Nita Michaels .... Hooker
*Vicki McLaughlin .... Hooker
*Curtis Mayfield .... Himself (The Curtis Mayfield Experience)
*Master Henry Gibson .... Himself (The Curtis Mayfield Experience)
*Lucky Scott .... Himself (The Curtis Mayfield Experience)
*Craig McMullen .... Himself (The Curtis Mayfield Experience)
*Tyrone McCullough .... Himself (The Curtis Mayfield Experience)
*Sig Shore .... Detective Rairdon


The film was financed by two black dentists and Gordon Parks, Sr., who had just directed the cult classic "Shaft".
Sig Shore, who produced "Super Fly", plays Deputy Commissioner Riordan, or "The Man".

Nate Adams coordinated the fashion and wardrobe for the film. He had done several fashion shows prior to "Super Fly". He still owns many of the suits, shoes and fedora hats.

Charles McGregor, who plays Fat Freddie, was released from prison before the film's production.


Priest's car is a 1971 customized Cadillac Eldorado. This type of Eldorado had the largest V8 ever used in a production vehicle, an 8.2 L (500 in³) engine. The car belonged to K.C., an actual hustler and pimp from Harlem who plays a pimp in the film. K.C. met Nate Adams in a hotel lobby and was asked if his car could be used in the film. K.C. agreed but later telephoned Nate Adams accusing him of lying, stating, "No niggers are making no movies."

The car was customized by Les Dunham Coachworks of New Jersey, who modified the headlight covers, goddess hood ornament (Rolls Royce/Bentley style), lake pipes and circular porthole windows. The film helped start a trend for car customization in America known as the Pimpmobile. Many aspiring drug dealers, gangsters, and pimps modified their cars during the 1970s as a result of watching "Super Fly".

In popular culture

"In Living Color" parodied the film in combination with "The Fly" in which the "Super Fly" is a gigantic fly who flies around the city in pimp clothes and stops criminals with fly vomit.

Lupe Fiasco's song "Comin' from Where I'm From" includes a quote by Eddie from the film as the opening for the song.

Jay-Z's intro of his song on "Kingdom Come" uses a quote from the film.


Eddie "You gonna give all this up? Eight track stereo, color TV in every room, and can snort half a piece of dope every day. That's the American dream, nigga."

Scatter "Square up nigga!"

Priest "Now if you don't get my money tonight I'm gonna put that young girl of yours out on whore's row!"

Craps Player "Look at me when I'm talkin', you white lookin' mutha fucka!"

Deputy Commissioner "You're gonna work for me until I tell you to quit."

Priest "You don't own me, pig. And no motherfucker tells me when I can split."

Deputy Commissioner "Who the fuck you think you're talking to?"

Priest "I'm talking to you, you redneck faggot!"

ee also



External links

*imdb title|0069332|Super Fly

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