Fred Williamson is a total badass in this early movie by Larry (God Told Me To) Cohen. Williamson stars as Tommy Gibbs, a gangster who works his way up from being a shoe shine boy to kingpin of Harlem. He makes his bones by killing a Mafioso in a barber chair. He cuts off the dude’s ear and drops it into a crime boss’ spaghetti, and says, “The sauce needed more meat!” They like his moxey so they let him run the rackets in Harlem. He makes the big time and buys his white lawyer’s fancy apartment and pushes around the crooked cop who gave him his gimpy leg (He puts him in blackface). The shit hits the fan for him when his woman balls his best friend, his mother dies, and his underlings turn against him. After an electrifying first half hour, the film settles down into a routine crime melodrama. The ironic ending has Gibbs killed by a street gang. That didn’t stop him from returning in the sequel, Hell Up in Harlem the next year. Co-stars Julius Harris and Gloria Hendry were also in Live and Let Die together. Also with D’Urville (Dolemite) Martin and Don Pedro (THX-1138) Colley. Williamson and Cohen later teamed up for Original Gangstas. James Brown did the score and sings the excellent theme song, “Down and Out in New York City”.