I Saw A Film!

Yes indeed. What we have here is a case of Rudy Ray Moore writing and starring in a comic horror thriller. While you see people shot to death, you are also treated to jokes about fellows literally shitting their pants with lots of jabber about how bad it smells. Ladies in this film scream their heads off while waving their hands about in the air. A chase sequence is paid out on the fate of a whole lot of eggs being carried by a couple of fellows and you just know they’ll choose the worst way to try to rescue those eggs. There are hysterical karate fights, in which you feel sort of bad for the guys, because it’s clear that some of them actually have skills that aren’t being featured very well. And so it goes.

Rudy Ray is a jive-talking proto-rapper (actually much of his speech sounds like Underdog) most famous for Dolomite made just a couple of years ahead of this film. This time out the tale is of a pair of fellows who borrow a pile of money to open a club hoping to clean up in town while all the big shows are touring. They did not notice however that Petey Wheatstraw (Rudy Ray) is coming to town to perform and ruin their grand opening, and by extension, foul up their loan management with their shark. The solution, after attempting to talk Petey out of his gig, is to slaughter him and a slew of friends and relatives at a church where they’re gunned down like a 1930’s gangland hit. In walks the Devil himself, who resurrects old Petey and company and he’s offered a deal. All he has to do is marry the Devil’s hideous daughter (I didn’t catch her name). Devil’s daughter? Knowing that a lot of our pop-culture around the Devil has nothing to do with scripture, it’s kind of fun to think about the myriad ways in which Lucifer is depicted. Petey agrees after a moment of hesitation and the film is rewound to before the shooting and he’s also given a cane of power which allows him to achieve all sorts of fun tricks, like putting shoes on shoeless kids, and making fat ladies thin!

A laughable highlight is a bachelor party thrown for Petey by the Devil which includes a bevy of gorgeous ladies with their sexy legs in the air. True to form, our hero wears the ladies all out, like an old Muddy Waters number, and manages to get to the opening night of his chubby comic competitors to shake his cane and put terrible jokes in their mouths. I got confused here as I thought at this point that revenge was being extracted for an event the Devil had erased. But I think I might be wrong, and instead the event happened, the devil just took the results of it back. Unfortunately for Petey he is a victim of his own over-confidence, having the power to evade the Devil’s mean bargain he instead, imagining he’d won the fight, snaps the cane in two, only to find out he’d been duped after all. This is possibly the weakest plot point, as Petey should be well aware by now that little is as it seems with The Devil.

There are a lot of cringe-worthy bits in this film, but it’s hard not to have a good time. Rudy Ray has a contagious enthusiasm that lets you forgive some of the more ineptly produced portions. One definitely comes through it with the feeling the film was made by friends for friends and the end result is a rollicking, stylish bit of foolishness that is certainly a seventies time capsule of ethnic entertainment.

Not a bad choice while we’re celebrating Black culture and arts! You know, in the end, this is arguably just capitalism’s fault. We should have good arts grants and the fact that these players wanted to open a club that was threatened, because another artist was in town, should not end in their lives being on the line for the loans they were forced to procure from shady and dangerous characters.

This runs free on Prime!

3 thoughts on “Petey Wheatstraw (1977)

    1. as far as I know it is not anything cultural but just a funny name RR Moore used. There is, however, a rumor that the rapper Li’l Wayne grabbed his moniker from a bit of graffiti prominent in this film!

      Liked by 1 person

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