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While the Black Power movement was reshaping America, trailblazing director Gordon Parks made this groundbreaking blockbuster, which helped launch the blaxploitation era and gave the screen a new kind of badder-than-bad action hero in John Shaft (Richard Roundtree, in a career-defining role), a streetwise New York City private eye who is as tough with criminals as he is tender with his lovers. After Shaft is recruited to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Harlem mob boss (Moses Gunn) from Italian gangsters, he finds himself in the middle of a rapidly escalating uptown vs. downtown turf war. A vivid time capsule of seventies Manhattan in all its gritty glory that has inspired sequels and multimedia reboots galore, the original Shaft is studded with indelible elements—from Roundtree’s sleek leather fashions to the iconic funk and soul score by Isaac Hayes.

FILM INFO​




  • United States
  • 1971
  • 100 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.85:1
  • English
  • Spine #1130


SPECIAL FEATURES​




  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Alternate uncompressed stereo soundtrack remastered with creative input from Isaac Hayes III
  • In the 4K UHD edition: One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and two Blu-rays with the film and special features
  • Shaft’s Big Score!, the 1972 follow-up to Shaft by director Gordon Parks
  • New documentary on the making of Shaft featuring curator Rhea L. Combs, film scholar Racquel J. Gates, filmmaker Nelson George, and music scholar Shana L. Redmond
  • Behind-the-scenes program featuring Parks, actor Richard Roundtree, and musician Isaac Hayes
  • Archival interviews with Hayes, Parks, and Roundtree
  • New interview with costume designer Joseph G. Aulisi
  • New program on the Black detective and the legacy of John Shaft, featuring scholar Kinohi Nishikawa and novelist Walter Mosley
  • A Complicated Man: The “Shaft” Legacy (2019)
  • Behind-the-scenes footage from Shaft’s Big Score!
  • Trailers
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Amy Abugo Ongiri

    New cover by Bill Sienkiewicz

    June 21, 2022
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Ronald Epstein

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Reggie W

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On Twitter, Bill Sienkiewicz spilled the beans a few weeks ago when he said he was doing the Shaft cover for Criterion. Although I'm shocked by the UHD.

Well, to be honest, I think Shaft is a notable film but not sure one I would have thought would end up in the Criterion Collection. It has some importance as a standout piece of genre cinema but I would not call it a great film. It will be pretty awesome to have a version that gets the Criterion level of love...they just don't seem like the label that would have done this.
 

Kent K H

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On Twitter, Bill Sienkiewicz spilled the beans a few weeks ago when he said he was doing the Shaft cover for Criterion. Although I'm shocked by the UHD.
I'm surprised they aren't putting 4K options out for more new releases that they have the scans for, if I'm being honest. They still seem pretty wary of UHD. Hopefully Shaft will be a good seller for them.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Well, to be honest, I think Shaft is a notable film but not sure one I would have thought would end up in the Criterion Collection. It has some importance as a standout piece of genre cinema but I would not call it a great film. It will be pretty awesome to have a version that gets the Criterion level of love...they just don't seem like the label that would have done this.

I feel the same way. Shaft is indeed a notable film. I like it a lot. However, a huge head-scratcher for the 4k treatment from Criterion.
 

lark144

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Well, to be honest, I think Shaft is a notable film but not sure one I would have thought would end up in the Criterion Collection. It has some importance as a standout piece of genre cinema but I would not call it a great film. It will be pretty awesome to have a version that gets the Criterion level of love...they just don't seem like the label that would have done this.
They released "The Learning Tree" a few months back, with lots of extra features about the importance of Gordon Parks. Though "Shaft" has been out on Blu-Ray, the fact this is the follow-up, and a major statement from Gordon Parks on all kinds of levels, aesthetic, social and political, not just the soundtrack or an influence on African-American oriented action films, has been minimized or ignored. Now, with Criterion's release, both films can be seen as part of a body of work from a major American artist.
 

Ronald Epstein

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They released "The Learning Tree" a few months back, with lots of extra features about the importance of Gordon Parks. Though "Shaft" has been out on Blu-Ray, the fact this is the follow-up, and a major statement from Gordon Parks on all kinds of levels, aesthetic, social and political, not just the soundtrack or an influence on African-American oriented action films, has been minimized or ignored. Now, with Criterion's release, both films can be seen as part of a body of work from a major American artist.

Well, when put in that perspective...

No argument here.
 

PMF

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Shaft is an intriguing and welcomed entry into the Criterion catalogue.:thumbs-up-smiley:
 
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TravisR

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Well, to be honest, I think Shaft is a notable film but not sure one I would have thought would end up in the Criterion Collection. It has some importance as a standout piece of genre cinema but I would not call it a great film. It will be pretty awesome to have a version that gets the Criterion level of love...they just don't seem like the label that would have done this.
I love when Criterion does genre movies because they get really top shelf ones like Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls or Night Of The Living Dead or the John Waters movies so while it's not Bergman, I think it fits in nicely with their other genre output.
 

JoshZ

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Well, to be honest, I think Shaft is a notable film but not sure one I would have thought would end up in the Criterion Collection. It has some importance as a standout piece of genre cinema but I would not call it a great film. It will be pretty awesome to have a version that gets the Criterion level of love...they just don't seem like the label that would have done this.

This isn't really a new phenomenon for Criterion. I'm sure we all remember the Criterion releases of The Rock and Armageddon on DVD.

But even among genres that may seem more in Criterion's wheelhouse, is a film like Pink Flamingos actually "good" in objective terms? No, but it is a very notable and important piece of film history anyway, even if more for what it stands for than the execution of it. Same idea here.
 

Lord Dalek

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They may be contractually obligated to put out a 4k by Warner Bros. Otherwise yeah I don't believe Shaft has photography anywhere near 4k level.
 

cadavra

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SHAFT actually holds up really well, and it's historically important as the film that proved "blaxploitation" was indeed a viable genre. (COTTON COMES TO HARLEM was considered a fluke.) And the fact that Roundtree was still playing the character 48 years later--which might be some kind of record--proves that "that bad mutha" and his theme song still have resonance in cinema history and are well worth celebrating.
 

rdimucci

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SHAFT was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2000.

"In this prime example of the "blacksploitation" film (one made specifically for urban black moviegoers but whose appeal attracted a broader audience), Richard Roundtree stars as John Shaft, the coolest of cool private eyes. Moses Gunn is the dope-dealing racketeer who hires Shaft to track down his kidnapped daughter. Adapted by Ernest Tidyman from his novel, the movie comes to vibrant life whenever director Gordon Parks hits the streets of New York. The soul and funk-styled theme song by Isaac Hayes topped the music charts and won an Oscar for best original song."
 

Matt Hough

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Yeah, I'll never forget Sammy Davis, Jr. at the Oscars jumping up and down when Hayes' Best Song win was announced. As they greeted each other on the stage, he exclaimed, "I told you! I told you!" Hayes' score for the film was also nominated but lost to Summer of '42.