Sheba, Baby was very much an attempt by Pam Grier as a stepping stone from the blaxploitation films which made her a leading lady to more “mainstream” starring roles. Sadly it didn’t quite go that way and with the exception of his leading role in Jackie Brown (which is still Quentin Tarantino’s finest film) she hasn’t had the opportunity for more leading roles. Sheba, Baby also lacks any of the grit of Grier’s previous starring roles in films like Coffy and Foxy Brown.
Grier plays the private eye Sheba which is a far cry from the more badass vigilantes who take shotguns out of their Afros before they gun down some pimps and drug pushers in the hood she made her name doing. Grier heads down to Louisville in Sheba, Baby to confront some small town thugs who are trying to intimidate her father into giving over the family insurance company over to them. Her father also gets his business partner Brick Williams (Austin Stoker) to help Sheba and they rekindle their romance in the process.
The film is certainly formulaic but it bounces along at a solid pace. It’s mostly down to Pam Grier’s charisma which elevates it to a slightly above average ’70s cop film and a decent funk score by Monk Higgins. It runs at 89 minutes so it never really outlasts it welcome. Austin Stoker gives a solid performance who would star in John Carpenter’s classic Assault on Precinct 13 the following year.
The disc isn’t super heavy on bonus features which is rare from Arrow Video. There are two commentaries first one is by David Sheldon which is moderated by Nathaniel Thompson and the other one is by Patty Breen who is the webmaster of WilliamGirdler.com. David Sheldon appears again in an interview and there is also a short featurette on Pam Grier’s AIP years. The trailer, image galleries and a booklet with some writings by Breen round-up the release.
Action, Drama | USA, 1975 | 15 | Arrow Video | 8th February 2016 (UK) |Dir.William Girdler | Pam Grier, Austin Stoker, D’Urville Martin, Rudy Challenger | Buy:Sheba, Baby [Dual Format Blu-Ray + DVD]