You could categorize Dolemite, which was “based on a short story by Rudy Ray Moore” and starred him, as a righteous blaxploitation assault on hayseed white culture, but, on a baser level, it’s a fun flick about a badass who didn’t let a damn thing stand in his way. I have no idea if it was Moore’s idea for Dolemite to wear the crazy white suit in the above scene, but the metaphor is clear. Moore could outdo Boorman and Dickey in his sleep.
One can’t imagine a film like Dolemite, which Moore sank his hard-earned comedy and concert earnings into, being made today. The so-called independent film scene now plays it too safe, fearing anything even remotely different being thrown to the audience, and remaining diffident about any film possessing even a modicum of sardonic fun. One of the great things about Moore’s films was the ferocious and iconoclastic energy, frequently evident in Moore himself. The brio was also there in the man’s raucous standup routines, which unapologetically unfurled “fuck” onto comedy records and inspired other performers to tell the truth without restraint. This was a man who, as the producer of The Human Tornado, had the good sense to let screenwriter Jerry Jones and director Cliff Roquemore run amuck: we see an antagonist’s testicles munched on by rats in a torture chamber, an utterly ridiculous sendup of martial arts movies, and shots of Dolemite eating ribs that are intercut during a sex scene.
The world is a lesser place without Rudy Ray Moore. His passing reminds us that we have a duty to push harder and crazier in these stagnant times, and to realize that the craziest artists may be unexpectedly entertaining people just as hard as they are provoking them.
© 2008, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.