Sunday, July 17, 2011
HIT MAN: Worth the wait...
I finally, finally own a pristine copy of George Armitage's Hit Man (1972), starring Bernie Casey at his best and a lovely and very young Pam Grier. I've had one long, strange trip with this film. I think I first read about it in Shock Cinema (before I began contributing to the "Film Flotsam" section of that awesome magazine). I had heard of, but had yet to see, Get Carter, and learned that Hit Man was a blaxploitation remake of that film (the action was transposed - seamlessly, believe it or not - from Cockney England to urban Oakland). I learned that Casey and Grier were the stars and I was a fan of both actors.
I requested a screener from Video Search of Miami (remember them?) so that I could review Hit Man for the regional rag, Indie File, that I reviewed films for. I expanded my review for Video Eyeball's Drive-In special issue (which, sadly, ended up being our last). I still had not seen Get Carter (and didn't until 2002), so I downplayed that aspect of things and tackled the film on its own terms. I wrote a decent-sized review of the film, zealously praising Casey's "incendiary righteousness" (did I really write that way back then?) and comparing Hit Man favourably to one of my Top 10 most-loved flicks, Superfly. This review is cited on IMDb, I'm proud to say.
Years later, circa 2005, doing Wold Newton research, I needed access to some blaxploitation titles that were in limbo and not yet on DVD, among them Hit Man. A gent I corresponded with on a Yahoo! blaxploitation board supplied me with the titles I needed, duping them from his old VHSs onto DVD-Rs. Well, the picture quality and sound on the DVD-R were an improvement, but sadly not by much. But at least I could watch the movie on my DVD player. Recently, I learned the Warner Archives (on-demand DVD-Rs direct from the studio) had released the film. But not only did the copy I ordered through a vendor that goes through Amazon have the wrong (albeit beautiful) cover art, but the DVD played defectively on 5 different devices we tried it out on. I nabbed a refund, pronto.
I ordered HM directly from Amazon as soon as it went on sale (it had been $27) and could not be happier. The DVD was the real deal with the Warner imprimatur and original poster cover art and all. And, DVD-R or not, it plays perfectly on all our devices. So my quest is over and this Holy Grail of blaxploitation brilliance now resides in the Covert library. I highly recommend this film to any fans of blaxploitation, Casey, Grier, and/ or Get Carter (this is how a remake should be done) - which we (finally) own and love.