Coffy (1973)

Coffy (1973)

“Her whole life is gone. She can never get it back, and you’re living real good; that ain’t right.”

A Black nurse (Pam Grier) seeks revenge on all the corrupt men whose actions and greed have led to her little sister’s drug addiction.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • African-Americans
  • Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
  • Doctors and Nurses
  • Drug Dealers
  • Mistaken or Hidden Identities
  • Pam Grier Films
  • Revenge
  • Strong Females
  • Vigilantes

Jack Hill directed this hugely successful Blaxploitation film which offered Pam Grier her breakthrough role (to be followed by several other titles which I’ll be reviewing soon). As Coffy opens, we think we may simply be watching a straightforward tale of drugs and vice in the hood, as a drug dealer (Morris Buchanan) takes the presumably dope-sick Coffy (Grier) home:

… expecting sex in exchange for drugs, only to be killed off by Coffy in a furious rage.

From there, we see Coffy attempting to do her official work at a hospital, but being too traumatized to focus:

… given she is deeply concerned about her sister, who is in a rehab center for drug use.

Throughout the remainder of the film, we see Greer inhabiting a variety of clever guises to continue her vengeance. She visits a scarred prostitute (Carol Lawson):

… and uses violence to convince her to share details of where notorious pimp King George (Robert DoQui) hides his drug stash, then easily infiltrates George’s stallion as a new hire:

… though she’s instantly disliked by George’s top girl (Linda Haynes). Coffy is soon kidnapped by a sociopathic john (Allan Arbus) who’s taken a liking to her:

… and the jam-packed plot continues to thicken, including more revealed about the aspiring politician (Booker Bradshaw) Coffy is in love with.

In its low-budget, high-sensation way, Coffy effectively conveys the complexities of corrupt systems in which everyone is out for themselves, and innocent participants will most definitely be sacrificed; in a world like this, it’s obvious that we need dedicated, savvy vigilantes just like Coffy.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Pam Grier as Coffy

Must See?
Yes, for Grier’s performance and for the film’s historical relevance.


  • Cult Movie
  • Historically Relevant
  • Noteworthy Performance


2 thoughts on “Coffy (1973)

  1. Rewatch (3/21/20). Must-see, for Grier’s performance. As posted in ‘Revival House of Camp & Cult’ (fb):

    “When was the last time I laughed?”

    ‘Coffy’: Blaxploitation-a-Go-Go, with Pam Grier front and center as one black woman who has had e-NOUGH! The wild world of drugs becomes very personal for her when it just about kills her little sister. Coffy (Pam) – an exemplary nurse by trade – doesn’t feel she can expect real retribution help from the one nice cop she knows (who yearns for her) *or* from her congressman-boyfriend whose duplicity she never suspects. Perhaps thinking that “What happens in the family, stays in the family.”, Coffy decides to take this thing on loner-style, the vigilante style. Still, though she’s more than up to the task, Coffy can’t anticipate what she’s really up against – an underground in which she’ll find herself faced with angry lesbians, a girl fight with white hos, kingpins with their countless loyal henchmen… and a need for both street smarts and acting ability! But a lot of Coffy’s prowess appears innate – she already knows how to conceal weapons in her hair! Written and directed by Jack Hill (and an inspiration to Quentin Tarantino), ‘Coffy’ has a first half that suggests that the real ‘corporate’ world of sex and drugs is actually a lot duller than people might think – but, as she gets in deeper with the scum-life, Coffy purposely creates an internal confusion that has the bad guys turning on each other. And the action-packed 15-minute finale finds Coffy supremely justified when she’s listening to the kind of drivel that’s been coming out of Bill Maher’s mouth lately.

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