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Rated R
Copyright 1974 Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 31 March 2009

The Characters:  

  • Willie Dynamite - Here is a pimp whose fashion is to be reckoned with, a king among flesh merchants. He is stylish, he makes his scratch from his hoes' backs, he keeps his b****es in line, and...OH MY GOD! IT'S GORDON FROM "SESAME STREET!"
  • Cora - Self-appointed social worker to New York's prostitutes. She is so conflicted that I think she needs a therapist, because Cora does not know whether she wants to destroy the pimps or give them a hug.
  • Robert Daniels - That is an awesome bow tie.
  • Pashen - Willie's newest hooker. Wearing a big wig makes it look like her face is glued to the front of her afro, and her hoop earring is so large that a poodle could jump through it.
  • Honey - Willie's head hooker, becomes a dead hooker.
  • Pointer - He looks and acts mighty out of place for an African American detective in New York City, 1974. Maybe he would be less out of place in the 1950s.
  • Celli - I am certain that this guy eats a bowl of margarine for breakfast every day.
  • Bell - The #1 pimp in New York City. He is aggressively defending his position (and his hookers' positions) from Willie's up-and-coming cadre.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Willie Dynamite is not just any New York City pimp. He is the #2 pimp, but he aims to be #1. He works his girls in a ritzy hotel that hosts a lot of conventions, dolls them up in fancy clothes (they are dressed for suck-cess), teaches them about selling a product, and keeps his b****es in line with the back of his hand. The mind-rending bit about all of this is that Willie is played by Roscoe Orman, better known to generations of "Sesame Street" viewers as Gordon! I grew up watching "Sesame Street." Seeing Gordon wearing a bona fide, made-in-the-USA pimp getup, smacking a hooker and telling her to get on her back and make him some scratch, is about as close to an LSD trip as I will ever get.

I watched this film with my wife, and Katie's sudden realization of who played Willie Dynamite was priceless. She exclaimed, "Andrew, that is Gordon...from 'Sesame Street!' Oh no! OH NO! What are you doing to my childhood?"

Just remember, every time that Willie does something, it's Gordon from "Sesame Street." Kindly, friendly, I wish he would make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crust cut off, Gordon.

Good LORD, that is wrong.

Out of all the cool '70s pimps, Willie Dynamite is my fashion hero. He has an unbelievable coat that is fuchsia or some other impossible color, and it is decorated with lines of fur. Another Siberian-inspired outfit is made of nothing but thick gray and white fur. In addition, Willie's favorite pants suit is a bright lime green, accented by gold platform shoes. I think that he could appear in the Mummer's Parade and not be out of place. As if Willie Dynamite would ever walk. Not while he owns his chromed-out purple Cadillac, with authentic leopard skin interior! I mean, that car is so smooth that it has different license plates: "WILLIE" on the front, and "DYNAMITE" on the rear.

Willie also has a matching hat for every outfit; he even has a hat that matches the inside of his car. He is so preposterous that I would love to see the character magically transported out of New York City to some sleepy town in the Midwest, perhaps Ravenna, Nebraska. The citizens would think that the Martians (or the Hottentots) were invading.

Being a pimp in New York is not all cognac and roses, but it is about to get a lot worse. The police are starting to crack down on the flesh merchants. A committee of the city's most influential pimps convenes to address the problem. Bell's solution is to create shared turf. Where the heat is coming down, the kings of sin will just melt away to set up shop in another part of the city. While the plan will reduce individual risk, it also cramps Willie's style. That is intentional; Bell wants to keep Willie from threatening his dominance. The rest of the pimps agree, but Willie refuses to be a part of the socialization of prostitution. He pledges to face the heat alone.

In a very short time, Willie is feeling the heat, and it does not feel too good. His car is towed, despite being legally parked, Pashen is tossed into jail on trumped up charges, and Willie has to endure Cora's individual jihad against all things Dynamite. Even though she is obviously teetering on the edge of sanity, Cora has her heart in the right place. She understands how pimps exploit hookers so that they can live the easy life, while the girls take all the real risks (disease, violence, incarceration, having to service a man who looks like Ron Jeremy but performs like Urkel). The police, on the other hand, are hard to like. They are obviously frustrated by the system's inability to stop Willie and his ilk, but take matters into their own hands in a manner that would make a normal citizen distrustful of the authorities.

Pushing back against the cops is a little too risky, but Willie does make an attempt to intimidate Cora. She calls his bluff! In impotent retaliation, Willie tells Cora that he would rather rape a watermelon than force himself on her! I had never even considered the possibility of a man engaging in sexual relations with a watermelon until this film. This is coming from someone who has seen more of what the Internet has to offer than he ever wanted. What is it with women and wine bottles, anyway?

Oh GOD, Gordon just said that he would rape a watermelon!

Anyway, the man is still coming down hard on Willie. His entire stable of b****es is busted when the cops catch them in the act (pee-pee in the honeypot, so to speak). The girls are loaded into the back of a box truck! Man, if I ever amassed a harem of ambitious hookers that was so large that I needed a box truck to transport them from place to place...I would probably maximize my profits by buying them all monthly subway passes.

See, I'm already thinking like Willie D.

His position weakened by the constant pressure, Willie is further threatened when Bell and his goons start sniffing around. The god emperor of pimps smells an easy kill. Do not think that Mr. Dynamite is ready to be pushed around. Bell tries to use force to talk some sense into Willie's bald head, but our title protagonist turns the tables. Bell's tough is left cowering in the gutter, and Bell himself is left, naked, in a godforsaken section of the Bronx (at the time, that was pretty much anywhere in the Bronx). Even though he struggles mightily, the forces arrayed against Willie are too much. His head hooker gets her throat slit when she confronts some of Bell's hussies working Willie's turf, and Cora's efforts result in all of Dynamite's bank accounts being frozen for possible tax fraud.

It gets worse. Willie spends most of an afternoon running away from Pointer and Celli, who have no compunction about drawing their weapons and indiscriminately shooting at the pimp as he flees through back alleys and a construction site. Officers, stop unleashing bullets that are just as likely to miss the pimp and hit somebody's grandmother! While the pimp is away the girls get busted again. This time they actually go to lockup; some mean prison b****es mess Pashen up pretty bad. Her torn face is waiting for Willie when he gets back to the pimp palace.

This movie makes an unexpected transition from extravagant pimp expose to gritty crime-doesn't-pay nihilism. Even more tragedy is waiting in the wings for Mr. Dynamite. Bell is successful in pulling the rug out from under him. Willie is beaten to within an inch of his life and left, bloody and bruised, in his demolished apartment. When Pointer and Celli arrive they arrest Willie! Yes, they respond to a disturbance at an apartment, discover the resident beaten to a pulp, and arrest him.

I assume that this all makes sense to a New York City police officer.

We are still not done with the tribulations of Willie Dynamite. His mama has a heart attack at his arraignment. I swear, if it was not for the extravagant clothes, hookers, and frequent use of pimp jargon, I might think that this was a Shakespearean tragedy. Willie is going all the way to the bottom. Everybody around him is going all the way to the bottom.

Et tu, Gordon?

In the end, Willie watches a tow truck cart away the last vestige of his glamorous life, but he does not regret what he lost. Instead, he happily catches a football tossed by some neighborhood kids, tosses it back, and strolls down the street towards a new beginning. Yep, he is going to Sesame Street. I suppose that, when compared to overused hookers, neurotic social workers, backstabbing b****es, gun-happy cops, and strung-out heroin addicts, an eight-foot tall talking bird with an imaginary wooly mammoth friend might seem normal.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • The difference between prostitutes and roller coasters is that there is no minimum size requirement to ride a prostitute.
  • HMO stands for Hooker Maintenance Organization.
  • Pimps are the last bastions of the Constitution and free market capitalism.
  • Coca-Cola works better than a clock radio's alarm function.
  • Prostitution is a form of aerobic exercise.
  • Hookers don't understand the value of a Woolworth's 50% off sale.
  • Never pay a HVAC technician to install your safety deposit box.
  • New York City would be a beautiful place if it wasn't for all the construction.
  • A pimp invented the Dewey Decimal system.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - My man, the first step to picking up a woman in New York is to get rid of that stupid hat.
  • 5 mins - Where was she hiding that roll of money? Never mind, forget I asked.
  • 10 mins - Is it Fashion Week already?
  • 27 mins - The courthouse is definitely a no ho smacking zone. You dig?
  • 42 mins - It is getting so that a hooker can't walk down the street without bringing down the heat.
  • 48 mins - Willie looks like a retired Jedi.
  • 55 mins - Oh, that is why he needs a big car. To fit all his b****es.
  • 59 mins - Bell, I know that you stole those curtains from my grandmother and had them made into a suit.
  • 67 mins - Now Willie looks like a cross between Elvis and King Tut!
  • 70 mins - Hahahaha! It IS New York!
  • 79 mins - Incredible as this may seem, his coat perfectly matches the room's purple crown molding.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note willied1.wav Willie: "You ain't no west side junkie b***h making it on a garbage can! I put you in the finest hotel in New York, with over two thousand plastic chumps that got just one thing on their dumb minds: getting a piece of you."
Pashen: "Willie, please listen..."
Willie: "Listen, s**t!"
Green Music Note willied2.wav Honey: "What are you trying to prove?"
Cora: "Nothing, except you are the saddest, ripped-off b****es I have ever known. Get it together! I mean, you wear out your back, you bring in the bread, you feed Willie...dress him like a king - he's wearing mink!"
Green Music Note willied3.wav Policeman: "You fit the description."
Willie: "I fit the description?"
Policeman: "A man in a brown coat."
Willie: "A brown coat? This is lamb! I paid over a grand for it!"
Green Music Note willied4.wav Willie: "What kind of s**t is this, anyway?"
Cora: "Just say, I'm a kind of a consumer protection agency. A sort of a Ralph Nader for hookers. So, you listen to me, Mr. Willie Dynamite. I'm declaring war on you. Ya dig it? I'm gonna make you number one, minus one, which equals zero."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipwillied1.mpg - 5.8m
Willie and Bell rap about law enforcement, capitalism, and hungry hungry hookers.

Remember, that is Gordon from "Sesame Street."

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