John Shaft

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John Shaft
Richard Roundtree 1973.JPG
Richard Roundtree as Shaft, 1973
First appearance Shaft (1971)
Last appearance Shaft (2000)
Created by Ernest Tidyman
Portrayed by Richard Roundtree
Information
Gender Male
Occupation Private investigator
Family John Shaft (nephew)
Nationality American

John Shaft is a fictional character created by screenwriter Ernest Tidyman as a sort of African American version of Ian Fleming's James Bond.[1] He was portrayed by Richard Roundtree in the original 1971 film and its two sequels, with Samuel L. Jackson portraying his nephew (also named John Shaft) in the 2000 version of the film. The blurb on the paperback on which the original film is based states Shaft is "Hotter than Bond, cooler than Bullitt."[2]

Books[edit]

  • Shaft (1970)
  • Shaft Among the Jews (1972)
  • Shaft's Big Score (1972)
  • Shaft Has a Ball (1973)
  • Goodbye, Mr. Shaft (1973)
  • Shaft's Carnival of Killers (1974)
  • The Last Shaft (1975)

Recurring relationships in the novels[edit]

  • Vic Androzzi - A lieutenant of detectives with the New York Police Department, and Shaft's contact.
  • Rollie Nickerson - Owner of the No Name Bar which Shaft frequents, and a part-time actor.
  • Mrs. Klonsky - Shaft's Polish-American housekeeper.
  • Mildred - The phone operator who handles Shaft's answering service.
  • Ben Buford - A black revolutionary who grew up with Shaft.

Films based on the character[edit]

Year Title Starring
1971 Shaft Richard Roundtree
1972 Shaft's Big Score
1973 Shaft in Africa
2000 Shaft Richard Roundtree

Samuel L. Jackson

Television series[edit]

The television show ran from 1973–1974, with Richard Roundtree reprising the role of John Shaft. There were seven 90-minute movies, part of the New CBS Tuesday Night Movies, rotating with Hawkins, which starred James Stewart.

Future[edit]

Paramount Pictures is negotiating a deal with John Singleton to make another Shaft movie to star Richard Roundtree (as Samuel L. Jackson has stated he no longer has interest making another Shaft film). After the release of the 2000 sequel, Singleton planned a sequel where Shaft would battle drug lords in Jamaica, but Jackson's disappointment with the film prevented a sequel from being made. Roundtree has signed on to do three Shaft sequels (the first two which will be filmed back to back), and has the option to write and direct the third.[citation needed]

Parodies in other films[edit]

John Shaft in other media[edit]

  • The USA Network's promo for their series Monk was modeled after the Shaft remake in 2000.
  • In Season 2's episode "Ants in Pants!", The Tick featured the Tick meeting "Taft." On confirming that it is he, the man says "Darn right." This would be reprised in the Season 3 episode, "That Moustache Feeling".
  • Broomhilda Von Shaft, a character in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, was named to suggest a relationship to John Shaft. Stated Tarantino: "Her and Django will eventually have a baby, and then that baby will have a baby, and that baby will have a baby, and that baby will have a baby, and that baby will have a baby ... and one of these days, John Shaft will be born".[3]

Shaft-isms[edit]

  • Shaft's Big Score and Shaft in Africa featured a teaser that had no music, just a hook, establishing the plot, after which the opening credits with a vocalist song would show Shaft heading to the location of the crime. (The first film, Shaft featured Shaft heading to the scene of the crime with the famous Isaac Hayes theme on the soundtrack, or at least, heading towards where the plot would be established, but no teaser).
  • Ernest Tidyman's final Shaft book The Last Shaft (1975) depicted the death of John Shaft in the conclusion. Despite this, the same John Shaft, as portrayed by Roundtree, was featured in a cameo role in the 2000 sequel, in which he invites his nephew John, as portrayed by Jackson, to be a partner in his P.I. business.

Reception[edit]

The character has had a mostly positive response.[4][5][6]

Literary references[edit]

The Detective in Hollywood, Jon Tuska, 1978 (ISBN #:0385120931)

References[edit]

External links[edit]