The Slams (1973)

Curtis Hook (Jim Brown) is part of a plot to rip off drug dealers and make off with the money. However, when his cohorts decide to also make money by selling the drugs, Curtis objects due to the fact that they would end up in black neighborhoods. After the other two guys involved in the heist fail to kill him, he manages to dump the drugs and stash the cash shortly before the police arrive.

After recovering he stands trial and finds himself doing time for the robbery and the murders. Upon arriving in prison he finds out that his troubles have just begun. The man whose drugs and cash he stole just happens to be mob boss Capiello (Frank DeKova), who is doing time in the same prison and wants to know where the money is stashed and his dispatched his thug Glover (Ted Cassidy) to find out - a task that Curtis repeatedly thwarts.

Also interested is the warden of the prison (Quinn Redeker), who is willing to help get Curtis's sentence reduced if he cooperates. Also in the mix is head guard Captain Stambell (Roland Bob Harris), who works for Capiello but has ideas of changing the power structure among inmates in the prison and making himself a fortune on the side. Stambell repeatedly pressures Curtis's girlfriend Iris (Judy Pace) to get the information, going so far as sexually assaulting her.

This, combined with the news that the abandoned pier in which he stashed the money is about to be demolished to make way for a new development, leads Curtis to plan an escape. With the help of Iris and an old pimp associate named Jackson Barney (Paul E. Harris) and planning by Capiello, he works out a way to go over the wall. Before he can complete his plan, though, Capiello is murdered and Stambell is hot on Curtis's trail.

While it is true that this almost-forgotten 1970s film is rife with cliches, it is still quite enjoyable. I do have to admit that I keep mixing some scenes in it with things that happen in Stir Crazy, since both movies share quite a few similarities, as do all escape from prison films seem to (black/white tensions, the token outspoken gay character, the protagonist beaten to a pulp at some point, corrupt officials), but I think it's Jim Brown's presence that makes this enjoyable. That, and the plot to escape is rather well-thought-out.

If you do find this (which, outside of catching it on Turner Classic Movies or finding an old video tape, is going to be hard), I do recommend it as a fun if not necessarily important part of the blaxploitation genre.

The Slams (1973)
Duration: 97 minutes
Starring: Jim Brown, Judy Pace, Roland Bob Harris, Ted Cassidy
Director: Jonathan Kaplan


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