Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Candy Tangerine Man (Matt Cimber, 1975)

Every pimp, no matter how successful they are, will, at some point in their life, think about turning in their hat and cane and moving to the suburbs to start a family. And the same can be said for all the non-pimps out there who are supposedly living the American dream out in those very same suburbs. Don't believe me? Well, check out this statistic: While, let's say, mowing the lawn on a Sunday afternoon, the average male thinks about chucking it all and becoming a flamboyant street pimp at least sixty times before he's finished cutting the grass. Of course, the amount of times varies given the size of the lawn they're mowing. But if there's one thing I know, it's that suburban lawns and pimp-related woolgathering go hand in hand. One of the main reasons lawns are cut in the first place is to replicate the environment of your typical pimp, as the flattened, freshly shorn grass reminds the suburban dweller of the concrete jungle he longs to hustle on. What if I told you there is a man out there who is trying to do both simultaneously? A pimp who lives in the suburbs? Impossible. It can't be done. Well, my skeptical friend, in the too awesome for words The Candy Tangerine Man, we follow a man who is attempting to do just that. Now, I'm not quite sure what his schedule looks like. I mean, is he a straight-laced businessman by day, take no shit pimp by night? Or does he only pimp on weekends? If it's the former, when does his sleep? Logistical questions aside, the pimp smack-dab in the middle of this Matt Cimber (Nevada Heat) production is my personal hero. Whoa, hold on there, little buddy. You're one of them Canadians, right? I guess; I don't like labels, man. Whatever. What kind of Canadian openly declares a violent street pimp to be their hero? I don't know what you're getting at, but I'm sticking to my mukluks... I mean, guns. I'm sticking to my guns.

Speaking of guns, you do realize that your "personal hero" shoots an unarmed female bar patron in the back at one point. I don't remember him shooting anyone in the back. Oh, he totally does. And it totally occurs during the Thriller - A Cruel Picture-style slow motion shoot out that takes place at that dive bar. Oh, yeah. First of all, it wasn't a shoot out, as none of the saps were able to get a shot off. And secondly, the unarmed woman he shot was hit in the chest first, and my "personal hero" merely shot her again as she fell off her bar stool. What you're saying is, he shot her in the back? Well, yeah, I suppose he did, but like I said... Don't you think that was somewhat harsh?

Look, it's obvious that my "personal hero," a.k.a. The Baron (John Daniels), the baddest pimp the city of Los Angeles has ever seen, decided ahead of time that he was going to kill every last fatherless mommy fornicator in that particular juke joint. How else can you explain the fact that he was packing two fully-loaded pistols? No, in his mind, everyone–even the unarmed gangster's moll sucking on a daiquiri–was fair game, as they chose to socialize with an unorganized assortment of titty-cutting scumbags.

I thought you said Ramrod from Vice Squad was the baddest pimp to ever work the mean streets of Los Angeles? I did? Okay, I'm sorry. What I should have said was: The Baron, the baaad'est pimp to ever to work the mean streets of Los Angeles. If I have to tell you what the difference between "baddest" and "baaad'est" is, then I'm afraid you don't know jack shit about pimping. You can tell right away that The Baron is pimping on a whole 'nother level when we see him cruising L.A. in his candy tangerine Rolls Royce (a car that comes with its own built-in telephone and a nasty surprise lurking underneath the hood) to the funky sounds of Smoke.

Briefly forgetting which side the steering wheel is located on a Rolls Royce, I actually started to question The Baron's pimp credibility almost immediately when I noticed that he was talking to one of his "bitches" while she sat in the driver's seat and he sat in the passenger seat. I thought to myself: What kind of pimp would allow one of his "bitches" to sit behind of the wheel of his–let's call it what it really is–pimp-mobile? I can't believe I'm saying this, but a sense of relief washed over me when I realized The Baron was sitting behind the wheel.

Telling her to "watch her money" and to "get it together," The Baron sends his "bitch" back out onto the streets. As he's doing this, we learn that The Baron is being watched by two vile vice cops, Dempsey (Richard Kennedy) and Gordon (George "Buck" Flower), from a nearby parked car. Sending in a cop, Carl, I think his name was, who is dressed in drag, to entrap The Baron, Dempsey and Gordon patiently wait for the pimp to incriminate himself. Of course, being a professional street pimp, The Baron can spot a man in drag a mile away.

Realizing that Carl, or should I say, Carla? is not who she says she is, The Baron decides to have a little fun at the expense of Dempsey and Gordon (who are listening in via a wire). Giving her the once over, The Baron tells Carla that she has nice legs. He even says, "My God they're beautiful," at one point. Not content with merely looking at her gams, The Baron begins to caress her thighs ever so gently. When the moments right, The Baron grabs her cock and squeezes it in a non-loving manner. After Carla bolts from the car in a fit of crotch-based agony, The Baron speeds off, leaving Dempsey and Gordon without a collar; which is police lingo that means "an arrest."

If you think Dempsey and Gordon are going to let a couple of swollen testicles deter them from nailing The Baron, think again. However, The Baron's got other problems on his plate. Get this, man, not only is the money not rolling in like it used to, a rival pimp named Dusty Compton has "acquired" a Native American woman named Heather (Feng Lan Linn)–a Chinese woman dressed in buckskins–and plans on turning her out. In case you're wondering where The Baron gets his information from. He relies on Bella, his secretary, and Maurice, his go-to source for street knowledge.

Determined to stop Dusty from turning Heather out, The Baron heads down to the Coach and Horses bar to take care of business. Actually, before he does that, he goes to an apartment complex to help out one of his ladies. When he arrives, he's ambushed by three men wielding switchblades. After calling him a "motherfucker" not once, but twice, the men rush The Baron. Do I even need to tell you what happens next? I will say that I loved how The Baron's hat managed to stay atop his head during the melee that ensues.

If there's one reason to get The Candy Tangerine Man digitally remastered, it's so that we can fully appreciate the eye-searing gaudiness of Dusty's powder blue pimp suit.

The sight of two flamboyantly dressed black men fighting over the ownership of a Chinese woman dressed as an "Indian" as a bunch of Italian gangsters watch is one of the more bizarre moments in this film. My favourite line during the discussion relating to the future of Heather's soon to be worn out "slot" (their word, not mine), was when The Baron says, "What do I have to do to get that thing"? Well, to get that "thing," all The Baron has to do is watch Dusty scratch the 8-ball in a game of 9-ball. As Dusty is cursing the cue ball that did him in ("white, honky motherfucker!"), The Baron is walking out with his ten grand and Heather on his arm; she is, "too fine, not to be mine." You don't think those Italian gangsters are going to let The Baron leave with such pristine piece of tail? But don't worry, The Baron blasts them with the machine guns located underneath the hood of his car.

After blowing off Dempsey and Gordon's second attempt to shake him down, The Baron drives to an undisclosed location, changes his clothes and gets into another, less conspicuous looking automobile. It's during these next couple of scenes that we learn about The Baron's other life as a married businessman/father of two named Ron Lewis who lives in the suburbs. Now, I've read some reviews that describe Loretta Terrence, The Baron/Ron's nosy next-door neighbour, as an "old lady." This is far from the truth, as I found Loretta to be a sexy slice of milfy goodness. Either way, the sight of The Baron mowing the lawn (with one of them old fashion cylinder-style mowers) in a football jersey while Loretta annoys him about trivial, suburban nonsense was quite the eye-opener.

If it looks like The Baron/Ron Lewis is doing a pretty good job at balancing his two lives, he's not. You see, while The Baron/Ron is living in the suburbs, his pimping life suffers. And the same can be said for when The Baron/Ron is doing the pimp thing, as his suburban life seems to suffer. Though, it should be stated that having your wife give your grief about yard work is nothing compared to having to deal with a bunch of sadistic gangsters who want to straight up kill your black ass.

Since The Baron is not around, the aforementioned gangsters decide to target his bread and butter instead. That's right, they go after his "bitches." Bearing the brunt of their particular brand of mid-70s-style sadism is a leggy brunette. Removing one of her breasts with a knife, the gangsters have basically put The Baron out of commission, since his "bitches" are now too scared to work for him. On a positive note, Maurice manages to score an envelope filled with non-negotiable bearer bonds. Only problem is, The Baron can't cash them, since the bank doesn't consider pimping to be a legitimate business. Not to fear, Sugar (Meri McDonald) is here. She knows a banker, and all she has to do is pee on him (he's a piss freak), and they should be good to go.

You'll notice as The Baron is putting the hand attached to Big Floyd (Patrick Wright) in the trash compactor that Brenda Fogarty is sitting on the couch. Who's she, you ask? Why, she's Brenda Fogarty–you know, Mrs. Tenny from Trip with the Teacher. It was weird seeing Miss Fogarty as a prostitute, or, as she's listed in the credits "Hooker on Couch." In that, she displays none of the headstrong qualities of her feisty teacher character; I guess that's why it's called "acting."

Is there anything sadder than watching a pimp walk in L.A.? I don't know, but I sure am glad John Daniels is the one doing the walking, as his ice cold performance is what makes this tale of a pimp living a double life so darn irresistible. Culminating in a slow motion barroom massacre and a car chase, The Candy Tangerine Man might be one of my first forays into the realm of blaxploitation, but it's got to be one of the best. And by "best," I mean that it's just the kind of sleazy, violent, misogynistic, racist trash I was hoping it would be.


  1. An excellent intro to Blaxploitation; representative, but not one of the obvious (Superfly, Shaft) choices.

    Being a pimp is apparently quite analogous to being a super hero.

  2. Pimps sort of dress like superheroes; well, they did in the 1970s.