Not long after starring in two of the wildest blaxploitation films of all time -- Coffy and Foxy Brown -- Grier's career went in a much tamer direction.
Reviewed by Mike Emery, Fri., Jan. 17, 2003
SHEBA, BABY (1975)
D: William Girdler; with Pam Grier, Austin Stoker, D'Urville Martin, Dick Merrifield, Rudy Challenger.
Not long after she starred in two of the wildest blaxploitation films of all time -- Coffy and Foxy Brown -- Grier's career went in a much tamer direction. This PG-rated adventure tale is no match for her earlier vehicles, but it's still fairly entertaining. Grier plays a private investigator named Sheba who has to protect her father's loan company from a cruel extortionist named Shark (Merrifield). Back in her old stomping grounds of Louisville, Ky., she rekindles a romance with Brick (Stoker) and butts heads with inept henchmen, led by the pimped-out Pilot (Martin). The action flows consistently as Sheba shakes down thugs for information and shoots it out with bad guys. Featuring very little blood and even less sex, Sheba was indeed a departure for Grier, who had previously appeared nude and blown heads off with a shotgun. Nonetheless, director Girdler handles the recycled story briskly and with enough action to appease audiences. Among the diverse settings for Sheba's shootouts are in a car wash, at the state fair, and in a boat chase. Stoker (most popular for his role in John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13) adds a nice touch as the sensitive boyfriend. The real scene stealer, however, is blaxploitation vet Martin, who played basically the same character in Dolemite. With a sleazy smile, loud clothes, and a whiny voice, Martin was the genre's ultimate villain. Sheba, Baby may not pack the one-two punch of Grier's earliest works, but still rises to the occasion thanks to the leading lady's charisma and her supporting cast's solid characterizations.