There are very few things in this world that give me more pleasure than the opening ten minutes of 1980's DISCO GODFATHER. I must admit to being a huge Rudy Ray Moore fan and my DOLEMITE box set is never too far away from my dvd player. I have noticed though, while I have watched all of the films multiple times, I often just return to particular sequences. From the, 'dance cracker dance' madness of the first film to the 'slow motion jump' in THE HUMAN TORNADO to the shot of Rudy Ray Moore dancing down the street with the Devil's cane in PETEY WHEATSTRAW, these films continually give me more sheer delight than most 'great' films coould ever hope to.
As awesome as any of those scenes are though none come even close to matching the joy that the opening shots of DISCO GODFATHER give me. A certain J. Robert Wagoner is credited as the director of DISCO GODFATHER but I have always suspected that Rudy Ray Moore himself probably had more to do with the production of the film than anyone else. A glance over at the IMDB listing for Wagoner shows DISCO GODFATHER as the only film he was ever attached to.
So onto the opening shot...As the great DISCO GODFATHER theme comes up and the opening credits literally burst out of the screen at us, we are treated to our first shots of the Blueberry Hill nightclub. People are dancing and having the kind of grand time that only 1979 could bring, strobe lights are flashing, drinks are being poured, cigarettes are being smoked and that great theme keeps pounding. People soon clear the dance floor though as the DJ announces the arrival of the one and only...you guessed it, The Disco Godfather!!! Just before we see the great man our propulsive theme takes on some vocals and the line "He's the Godfather of the disco" begins repeating like some sort of life altering mantra and then there he is in all of his blue sequined jump suited glory. Everything I love about Rudy Ray Moore comes out in this moment...with a huge smile on his face, shaking hips, those great head swivels and the kind of outfit that only Dolemite himself could get away with. The crowd applauds him and Rudy gets down on the dance floor. Of course Rudy Ray Moore's dance moves are a bit like his karate chops, one gets the impression that this guy is to cool to expel too much energy and slowness is one of his greatest weapons. Soon Rudy is at the head of the room commanding everybody to, "Put your weight on it" and the crowd goes crazy and the dancing begins again. These opening shots of Rudy have gotten me through many rough times and they remain a sure fire cure for even the toughest depressions.
DISCO GODFATHER is certainly very different from the three Dolemite films that proceeded it. The first three were all hard R's, actually if memory serves I believe the first DOLEMITE was actually an X, filled with as much violence, language and nudity that they could squeeze into them. DISCO GODFATHER is PG and I think that a lot of fans have ignored the film due to this, they view it a bit as Rudy going soft and I suppose in a way that is true...but for all of its camp value, cheap production and sheer cheesiness there is something extremely sincere about DISCO GODFATHER.
The plot of DISCO GODFATHER centers on nightclub owner, and former cop, Tucker Williams and his battle to get PCP off the streets and out of the hands of his cities kids. Played by Rudy, Tucker is a hard hitting, take no prisoner, dancing and crime stopping machine. Joining him is the lovely and always great to see Carol Speed, seen here in one of her last film roles. Returning from the first three Dolemite adventures are Jimmy Lynch, Jerry Jones and of course the unstoppable Lady Reed.
Tucker Williams thinks all is fine in the world until his hot shot basketball playing nephew has a total meltdown in his nightclub one evening and ends up in a mental hospital. As the ambulance is carrying his nephew away, Tucker delivers the legendary, "Doctor, what has he had?" line and it is explained that the dreaded angel dust has infested the town. "Haven't you heard Godfather, our kids are dying." is the the thought that really fires Tucker up and soon he is paying a visit to his old buddies at the police station to let them know he is going to single handily take care of the situation.
As I said there is something really sincere in Rudy Ray's performance in this film. No one would ever call the great Dolemite one of the world's best actors but throughout DISCO GODFATHER one really gets the feeling that this guy really means every word he is saying.
I won't give away any more of the film as I really just wanted to celebrate the opening sequence but it's a fun film and fans of seventies trash cinema and the blaxploitation genre should absolutely give it a look. I miss the kind of kinetic, devil many care attitude these films had. One rarely gets the excited feeling of , "Look, I can make my own movie and have a great time doing it" anymore but all of the DOLEMITE films, including the often overlooked DISCO GODFATHER, possess that.