Plot: Pasha (Paul Harris) has run the numbers game in town for years, building himself a minor empire in the process. But his time in the spotlight might be coming to an end, as the success of his numbers racket has drawn unwanted attention. Not from the police or even politicians, but rival criminals. Although Pasha does have an undercover agent right under his nose, his most obvious threat is Big Tony (Frank DeKova), an Italian mobster who wants to cash in on Pasha’s turf. After a sit down between the two, Pasha seemed to acknowledge he was outgunned, but he remained steadfast to keep his piece of the action. Pasha rolls his trusted allies Serene and Sweetman to work their magic, but he has to be careful outside of his inner circle, as the threat of an inside man from either Tony or the police is always a concern. As tensions mount and violence becomes inevitable, can Pasha hold on to his turf?
Entertainment Value: Also known as Jive Turkey, Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes is a low rent, but fun to watch blaxploitation installment. The movie makes some interesting choices, such as having an older lead in Paul Harris. I think that decision works, as it offers such a stark contrast to the rest of the genre, which focused on younger, less cerebral characters. Harris’ Pasha works mostly with his mind and his social skills, often letting his allies strike on his behalf, whereas most other genre entries would have a lead charge in headfirst. I also love the Serene character, a transsexual assassin who truly is a one of a kind. The movie is smart with the character too, letting her shine in key scenes, while not overdoing her presence. This keeps her sense of mystery and she’s certainly one of the more interesting cinema assassins. The rest of the cast is colorful and quite charismatic, giving the movie a pretty genuine sense of community, which is crucial to help us understand Pasha’s situation. While not all that polished, the performances carry the movie and the wild bursts of violence don’t hurt either. This is a crime movie after all, so you know guns are going to be involved. In the end, I found this to be a solid movie that is a little rough at times, but holds up well. I also appreciated some of the more offbeat elements, which spiced up the experience. I’d recommend this to those who love blaxploitation and organized crime cinema.
A couple of brief topless scenes, as well as one bare ass. So not much nakedness, but one sex scene does involve awkward nose and lip fingering, which adds some unintended humor to the moment. The blood flows decently here, with ultra bright red spurts from numerous gun shots and other violence. Serene has a couple of the highlights, using a hidden pin to slice a thug’s throat and beating a man to death with a high heel. We also have a scene where Pascha beats a guy’s face in, with blood splashing around. A late in the film phone booth assassination also yields some red stuff. The dialogue involves a lot of street lingo and of course, race based banter. So if you’re easily offended, you are sure to be offended here, as even the soundtrack includes racial content. Some fun lines come through, but there’s also a consistent flow of tough guy talk and verbal hustle, so it is a fun one. As I’ve discussed above, this movie has some wild moments and more than earns a few points on the insanity scale. The sudden violence, colorful characters, random bellydancing scene add a lot to the movie.
Overall Insanity: 3/10