Some Things To Know About Trick Baby

By Sandra Mitchell


Films in the Blaxploitation genre can have unusual or common themes central to their plots. But often, and with the best of them, they usually nod at issues that are traditional elements of African American societies. These are different from usual exploitation films, which tend to be very derogatory about its subjects.

There is one film that might have risen above the rest, as differentiated by the common run of movies here. The film in question is Trick Baby, released in 1972, with a story taken from the novel of a famous black author named Iceberg Slim. The novel is really a very moving tale about African gangsters, something the feature was not able to be.

The movie is about the relationship between two black male con men who are planning their biggest con. These are Blue Howard and White Folks, hustlers working in Philadelphia, the latter being half white and therefore could pass for a white man. This is central to all their cons, and also their ace in the con that they are planning.

The racial tensions obviously propel this plot, but then it can be expected from the work of an author with very intense experiences in the African underworld, and his books were even bestsellers in his genre. Delineation of character was present in a watered down sense, and Folks was especially cited for having a ho hum and forgettable performance. There was no focus on being black and male, and that was something that could have really made the difference.

White Folks is the product of a black woman who had a baby from a white customer, thus the title. The accident of birth becomes the locus through which both film and book moves, although in the movie the intensity was seen as lacking. Production went ahead to complete a feature that works with subjects easily told through the visual medium.

With this item, it can be seen how the film may explain its ignoring the most relevant issues related to a biracial criminal. Because of this, all that the film became was one more cliched item in the litany of themes on black crimes. The relationship between both protagonists became a buddy thing, making this movie a feel good one with nothing to say about realities on the ground but everything to gain in box office.

Films from Hollywood will tend to be dehumanizing, concentrating more on great visuals than focusing on the story elements. This defect is something that is still present, and so whatever films there are that are found meritorious in a story sense will not end up successful, in comparison to those that tend to con people.

The said plan by the protagonists is nearly derailed by a man with Mafia connections they victimized before. The twist is a classic cliche that happens before endings, something that critics have to howl about, even as the producers will go with it in the end. Maybe there was the idea to provide impact for the film in the box office sense all the time.

Thus, director Larry Yust thought it best to soften blows made by the story itself to be more acceptable to the general public. This is one organism that has an oh so sensitive stomach while allowing blasphemy to be its constant companion. And black experience is too much of a punch in the gut that it needs watering down.




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