Steve Jackson and Wardell Franklin sneak out of their houses to visit Madame Zenobia’s: a high-class but illegal nightclub. During their visit, however, the place is robbed and they are forced to hand over their wallets. Steve’s wallet turns out to have contained a winning lottery ticket, and together they must recover their stolen property.
Despite it’s obvious lack of a huge budget and the wildly out-of-style fashions and slang (yes, kids..we really DID dress and talk like that back in the ’70’s…I KNOW…I was THERE) UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT shouldn’t be passed up when it’s shown on your cable or satellite provider stations.
Sidney Poitier (who directed) and Bill Cosby play two working stiffs who sneak out of their homes to hang at Madame Zenobia’s, a high-class after-hours joint. After bluffing their way in, they immediately set about enjoying themselves at the gambling tables and are on a roll when the joint is robbed. The two consider themselves lucky to have gotten out alive, but then Poitier’s character finds out he’s got a winning lottery ticket worth $50,000(don’t laugh..back in ’74, that was a LOT of money) and the two pals start a frantic search to find the robbers and locate the winning ticket (it’s in a wallet taken during the robbery)
UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT is filled with quirky and oddball hustlers, grifters, crooked politicians, ghetto gangsters and cheap floozies, all brought to life by some of the most talented black actors of the day. And the movie also has two of the most beautiful actresses ever to be filmed, namely Rosalind Cash and Paula Kelly. Poitier and Cosby encounter a series of very funny adventures as their hunt for the winning lottery ticket forces them into a partnership with Geechy Dan Buford (an outlandishly hilarious Harry Belafonte) and Silky Slim (Calvin Lockhart) in order to get it back. Can the two working stiffs outhustle and outwit the hordes of street-wise slicks standing between them and a fortune? Watch the movie to find out and I think you’ll agree that its worth the time to find out the answer.
Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby made two other films in this kind of comedy/caper genre. LET’S DO IT AGAIN is just as good (with a thrilling and side-splitting foot chase near the end and Jimmy J.J. Walker as the heavyweight champion boxer of the world) but A PIECE OF THE ACTION is a little bit more on the serious side with an added dose of social commentary…still, during the blaxplotation era of the ’70’s, these films were a delightful alternative to the ‘kill-whitey-stick-it-to-The-Man-superbrotha-pimpin’-and-shootin-‘ movies that were also being produced then. I recommend all three of them very highly. Enjoy.