In the history of comedy, there is probably no one whose cadence and timbre is more recognizable than Rudy Ray Moore. He’s loud. He’s crude. He’s insulting. He’s hilarious. He’s extremely likable. He also made a lot of really fun movies to watch.
Whether you know him by way of his blaxploitation movies of the 70s, especially Dolemite, or you know him through some of the recordings he made, or you even actually know him as “the Godfather of Rap”, or you only just learned of him through Eddie Murphy’s marvelous portrayal of him in Dolemite Is My Name, he’s someone that once you become aware of him, Moore never really leaves you.
I’ve wanted to do a Rudy Ray Moore movie for some time on the site. There are four primary choices I could have made. I settled on Disco Godfather to be the one that brings Rudy Ray Moore to my humble little website. Before we get into the movie proper, let’s talk about Moore a little bit and what makes him such a fun and interesting character.
And yes, I said “character” and not “person” because I think that’s how Moore lived most of the last 40 years of his life.
Moore was born in 1927 in Arkansas. He spent some years in the midwest in Akron, Ohio and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Milwaukee, he did some preaching in churches and even worked as a dancer in a nightclub. He went back to Akron to work in more clubs singing, dancing, and doing comedy acts as one of his characters. He ended up in the Army where he did entertainment, and even earned the funny nickname the “Harlem Hillbilly” for performing country songs in R&B style.
It was his time in Germany in the Army where he really started to hone his comedic skills and interest. After his discharge, he made his way to the west coast. He first lived in Seattle before going to Los Angeles. Again, he was finding work in nightclubs. From the mid 50s to the early 60s, he recorded R&B songs before switching to comedy. In 1970, he was working at a famous record store (Dolphin’s of Hollywood), and started hearing these obscene stories of a guy named “Dolemite” from a local guy named Rico.
Rico was a wino, according to Moore. He’d feed him to hear about Dolemite. He would also study how Rico, among other street poets, would tell stories in raps and rhymes. He eventually took over the character Dolemite from Rico and expanded on it, then eventually recorded the act himself. He’d record albums as this character with a jazz band playing under him as he recited the raunchy and explicit rhymes about pimps, players, hustlers, and prostitutes. The albums couldn’t be displayed in record stores because of the images he used on the covers and the very suggestive titles, but people knew how to get them and they were huge.
With his earnings, he made Dolemite. When that came out in 1975, there were way better made and acted blaxploitation movies, but there was such an earnest charm to Moore’s character that it rose above those better made movies of the time to earn a legitimate place as one of the great blaxploitation movies ever made. He followed that up with a sequel, The Human Tornado, and other films like The Monkey Hustle, Petey Wheatstraw, and Disco Godfather. He continued to record comedy albums as well, but not much of it reached mainstream (read: white) audiences until much, much later. Despite much of his work on film and in recordings was far too raunchy and explicative-laced to be played on radio or TV, he still contributed to church services and even took his mother to the National Baptist Convention regularly. He saw himself as a true artist using the spoken word, even if many of the words were “dirty” to many.
So, how did I come across Rudy Ray Moore? Well, as I have previously mentioned, I became interested in blaxploitation in the mid-90s. Along the way, I had seen Shaft and Super Fly and Hell Up in Harlem and Across 110th Street and so on. Dolemite was one I had heard of but couldn’t find at the time. I’m not sure if I just didn’t have video stores that had it or if it was not currently on video at the time. I’m pretty sure I had seen the movie prior to the 2002 episode of Futurama in which Bender revealed he was made of “40% dolomite” which made any additional reference to all of that even funnier to me.
As the 2000s continued, access to Moore’s movies became easier and easier. Not only was I able to access Dolemite and The Human Tornado on home video more readily, but all of Moore’s work is quite easy to get your hands on… Or, I suppose, to get your eyeballs pointed toward and your ears open to. But enough of that history bullshit. Let’s dive into Disco Godfather!
Maybe the most amazing thing about this movie comes right in the first few seconds…
To which I say…
This is just proof that the 70s were raaaaad as fuck. I’m guessing this is laced with language, but the question really will be – does Rudy Ray Moore bring the titties?
One of the other things I noticed before this movie begins is in the credits. First, they are awesome with some sweet disco slap bass music. Second, One of the actors in the movie is Jimmy Lynch. Lynch plays a guy named Sweetmeat. I’d wager a white dude with that nickname would not be great. I’m also betting that if that honky ends up in prison with that nickname, that’s even worse. Anyway, When it gets to the wardrobe credit for Moore, Jimmy was listed with “Dolemite Designs Esq”. Why this makes me smile is that it feels very Rudy Ray Moore. Jimmy Lynch was probably a friend of his who designed some of his outfits. So he doesn’t just hire him for a movie to clothe him, but he gives him a part too. You really get that feeling that Moore was in it for fun. He made the movies HE wanted to see. I’d suppose his friends would want to see these types of movies too, but it’s charming as all get out that a guy would clothe Moore AND be in the movie as the third credit in the cast.
The movie proper opens at a happenin’ party at a disco. The DJ breaks up the dancing and is ready to make an introduction to the collected patrons. And woo boy what an introduction it is!
Now that the Disco Godfather is here, the party can start. However, elsewhere in the club, there’s a group of fellas and their ladies just watching the action. One guy in particular, Bucky, seems to be particularly down in the dumps tonight. One guy offers to take him for a ride, to which another says he shouldn’t take anymore of that “shit”. I’m guessing that Bucky was being offered the drugs. You know, a real steep high, trip the light fantastic, get heavy with it. You know what I mean, my good drug friends and brothers.
Bucky and his girlfriend have their dance and they leave in better spirits. They embrace and kiss in the street, but he’s still a little down. He’s got some heavy shit on his mind. His girlfriend, seeing that the other, less upstanding gentleman that wants him to go on a ride with him is offering him a seat in the car, is fairly upset. She thinks Bucky is smoking too much and he’s going to travel down some dark roads. Bucky is Disco Godfather’s nephew (heh, thought I was gonna say godson, but fuck you – misdirect, bitches!). So she runs back into the club crying and even more upset and seeks out Disco Godfather to tell him what it is he has had!
So she does just that. She goes to get an ambalance. While she does that, Bucky comes back in feeling pretty good. He’s pretending to play some basketball. When people look at him like he’s crazy, he asks what the fuck they lookin’ at. He hallucinates some crazy shit of Disco Godfather chastising him for doing the shit. He also sees a crazy scary skeleton and a long haired witchy demon lady who is the angel of death. She starts swinging a machete at him which only makes everything worse. He takes off running outside, but luckily the ambalance has arrived.
Godfather is told by Dr. Fred Mathis (Jerry Jones – played by Keegan Michael Key in Dolemite Is My Name) that Bucky is wacked out on the Angel Dust and it’s killing the kids. He invites Godfather to the PCP ward at the hospital where he can get a better understanding of what’s going on in the city. We see all sorts of people doing crazy things. One guy thinks he’s an unborn butterfly and finds safety in his cocoon. A woman there had her family over for a nice dinner only to reveal that she’s the basis of an urban legend and has cooked her four month old kid alive.
Godfather asks where the shit is coming from. Dr. Mathis says there are clandestine labs all over the community. Batches of it can be whipped up even by an 8th grade chemistry student without much problem. The doc and Godfather go into Bucky’s room to watch him thrashing around having hallucinations. He’s still in pretty deep withdrawals, so Dr. Mathis asks Godfather to leave for the day.
So, in a nice and tidy 22 minutes, we get everything we could possibly need for an awesome movie. We have Rudy Ray Moore wearing amazingly insane jumpsuits at the disco. We have a drug plot. We have lots of opportunities to see people tripping hard on said drugs. We have the motherfuckin’ Disco Godfather with a mission to clean up the streets.
And I know he will too. Do you want to know how I know? He’s a retired policeman. He has the means. He has the training. He’s practically “Inner City Rambo”, ya fools!
Oh… And kung fu. Rudy is gonna do a fuck ton of kung fu.
He goes to the cops and asks for some help from his old friends. He talks to Lt. Frank Hayes to get his reserve status activated so he can do some investigation on his own. Now, if anything goes down, he would like Hayes’ backup. Hayes agrees if Godfather sticks to the rules.
Enter Carol Speed! She plays Noel. Noel is basically Godfather’s right hand ma… Gal. She’s having an interview with a local newspaper lady. Godfather uses this opportunity to declare war on the suckas producing this shit. When he says exactly that, the reporter lady asks to quote Godfather on that. He then asks Noel to sniff around and see what she can dig up. He wants to go visit his squealin’ friends to see what they know.
But first, there’s trouble right on Godfather’s turf. Noel says he can’t use his office phone because the phone company is there working on the phone. Neither Godfather nor Noel called the phone company so…
He knocks over the first guy quick, and beats the fuck out of another guy and asks for information, but they only know they were hired to bug the phone. He gets knocked out so the bad guys can beat cheeks. We don’t know who is watching Godfather’s every move but…
Oh wait. Smash cut to the guy who is obviously going to be the bad guy.
So this smooth motherfucker is Stinger Ray. Stinger Ray is “the businessman with the ‘Midas touch'” and he apparently has a new basketball team he has started. He gets a call from someone saying that Godfather stopped his guys from finishing the phone bug. Stinger tells the guy to deal with this Godfather dude. Then Stinger stops by one of his angel dust factories. He’s got a huge shipment going out and they also dip cigarettes in the stuff to pass out.
Meanwhile, back at the club… I don’t know what Ms. Speed’s outfit is all about, but I like it.
We get a little disco break to allow us to catch our breath. We have people on roller skates. We have women in skintight bodysuits. We have Rudy Ray Moore tits out in his jumpsuit. We have people dancing in various forms of undress. We have people generally putting their weight on it.
Godfather also starts handing out marching orders. First, he’s going to let Dr. Mathis speak to the patrons at the disco. Then, he’s going to have Noel go to the door and take the names of the people who wants to join their crusade. Then, he and his crusaders are going to attack the wack – his words, not mine. Motherfucker, do you think I’d come up with anything half as clever as “attack the wack”?
Back at the PCP ward at the hospital, a straight up exorcism is happening to try to save this girl. We got a little bit of this earlier. When the girl was brought to the ward, her grandmother asked Mathis how they can help her get better. This is a particularly interesting thing that we see in a couple of Moore’s films (this one and Petey Wheatshaw). It’s the use of a black box style of stage dressing. It shifts almost seamlessly between the grandmother and the people from her church praying for the granddaughter and the granddaughter’s perspective which goes to the black box set. It’s lit strangely, it has fog whenever we see the angel of death dancing around, and it’s generally interesting because it gives a bit of the tunnel vision like concept that we can imagine bad trips to be. I like this very bare bones concept.
Later, Noel and Dr. Mathis holding a rally for the Attack the Wack team. Word gets back to Stinger Ray about the group and Godfather’s effort. Originally, a hit was put on Godfather’s head, but Stinger decides to call that off to get him face-to-face with his enemy to find out exactly how much of a threat he really is.
I hate to break it to ya, Stinger Ray, but…
You have no fucking chance?
Things do get a little hairy. As the night’s, uh, disco show(?) is coming to a close, a couple guys dance their way to the Godfather’s DJ station and pull guns. Thankfully, someone is there to karate kick the guns out of these hitmen’s hands. Then, cops who had just come in right before the attempt on Godfather’s life happened up and shoot the two would-be killers and make off into the night. But not before Godfather can spot one of the guys’ badge numbers – 143.
He talks to Lt. Hayes about the attack. He tells the lieutenant about the badge number and how it is bothering him and ringing around in his head. Hayes tries to talk Godfather out of it, but you don’t become Disco Godfather by giving up and walking away.
So… Here’s a thing that happens in the middle of this movie. After Godfather stops by an old friend’s school to tell him some bad shit is going down, we go to a party. It’s a party in the middle of the day. There’s dancing, and drinking, and a big pile of cocaine on the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. It appears to be a pretty decent time. Then, there’s a knock on the door and a guy comes in and starts kung fuing the shit out of the place. Then this guy comes downstairs and… and he talks like a kung fu movie guy.
This guy is fighting Godfather’s friend Paul. However, the party is being put on by Sweetmeat. Sweetmeat swears he’s not dealing wack. He deals in bitches and partakes in coke. Satisfied, Godfather and Paul go around and starts hustling for answers about where the shit is coming from. I like that Noel and the cleaner faces are doing the community-facing work of getting people informed about wack while Paul and Godfather go around and kick people’s heads in.
I am a tad curious how long they worked the streets. I mean I suppose Stinger Ray could be a complete moron and incompetent at getting his guys to fuck up Godfather, but it is also possible all this action is basically taking place over the course of, like, a day? I have no problem believing that Rudy Ray Moore can walk the streets of Los Angeles, shake fools down, and go on at least one date with a lady in a 24 hour period.
Now, Stinger Ray’s inside dude who knows what Godfather is after and helping keep Stinger one step ahead of the fuzz is one of the old cops that Godfather ran with in his cop days. It also helped mess up a bust on one of Stinger’s drug houses. To send an extra message that he means business, Stinger has his guys kill the old man that is teaching the kids about Africa and such that Godfather knew most of his life.
Godfather is still bothered by “badge 143” and hates to tell Lt. Hayes that he is certain there is a leak in the department. Hayes says that if that is the case, then there has to be a massive bust. So there is. One of the guys brought in for selling and being under the influence is a kid named Richard. Richard is a friend of Bucky’s and he tells Godfather that he was paid to get Bucky high. Bucky was the best basketball player. Stinger needed Bucky to get high and ruin his chance to be a pro. Stinger’s play in with his new team is to draft people who don’t get drafted by the league. This will make them hungry and mad. If he can get the best player in town, then he’ll probably be a winner.
Lt. Hayes doesn’t want to believe that there’s a particularly dirty cop on the force, but he knows that they have to set up the dirty cop. So they call Killroy, the cop who is selling secrets to Stinger, and tell him they need help busting a drug house – the one that they are currently at. They are able to quickly out him because he calls the number right back to say that the cops will be busting the place in an hour. When he arrives, he realizes the jig is up.
Also, one of my questions from earlier is answered when the next morning, Killroy’s lady friend wakes up and reveals that she sleeps in a see-through nighty.
She goes into the bathroom to find Killroy in the tub have he has slit his wrists or stabbed himself in the heart or something. Stinger is now scared and frustrated. He calls a guy to tell him to “go all the way” with Godfather. Stinger has clearly called his best guy to deal with Godfather… A rogue member of the band Redbone!
Don’t exactly quote me on the actual happenings of this moment, but here’s the best I can figure out… Okay, so crazy guy there has that whip, right? Well, Godfather catches it and then throws the guy against the wall. Don’t believe me? Here…
So after the guy explodes with blood from the face, he falls down onto the ground, right? Well, he’s still not quite finished. Godfather walks over to him and steps on the top part of his back until I suppose his back or neck or all his bones break. That then, I think, kills him.
Godfather shows up at the main offices of Stinger. And by main offices, I mean the place that looks like a setting for an Italian post-apocalyptic movie. He kung fus the shit out of everyone there while Stinger tries to burn all his evidence. While he’s beating up everyone, the greatest fucking thing in the world ever happens. And I mean it. This is the greatest fucking thing that ever happened in the world.
Godfather and random jogger dude fight their way through the goons. One after another… Just goons out of the wood works. It’s like they are coming out of the building, out of cars, out of the ground, through windows, they are everywhere! It’s like the stage at a Wu Tang Clan concert – the place is full of dudes all of a sudden! But Godfather gets backup from his dudes and his recently released from the hospital nephew.
The last 20 minutes of this movie is utterly insane. It’s fighting all over the place. We’ve got some more exorcism of the girl back at the PCP ward. We have Stinger with Godfather tied up with a gas mask over his head pumping him full of angel dust. It’s insane.
Yet, he gets away. How? He threatens the biggest goon in Stinger’s employ to take the mask off. However, he still has a little bit of the PCP running through him. He rips the ropes that binds him and he starts having a little trip. He sees himself in a coffin. He sees demons. He sees that angel of death chick. He sees the old dude and his mama. However, elsewhere, the one girl is getting that exorcism done. And it is mostly done in wonderful black box theater style.
It turns out to be the exact wrong time for Stinger to run into Godfather. During his freak out, he started seeing that crazy angel of death bitch and he decides he’s gonna throttle her but good.
Bucky, Paul, and Lt. Hayes get there just in time to stop him from killing Stinger, but when Hayes says they need to get him to the hospital, he screams and carries on about there being nothing wrong with him and he won’t go anywhere. Then smash cut to the credits.
This is a wild movie. It’s a much better movie in terms of production value than, say, Dolemite. Rudy Ray Moore himself is kind of amazing in this too. Like, normally, you get Rudy Ray Moore at about a 13 on a scale of 1-10, but in Disco Godfather, he’s like a 17. I can definitely see how this is a PG rated movie, though. I feel like Rudy was aware of some bad shit happening in the city, particularly to black kids and young adults, and he wanted this to be a PSA – but in his way. It just so happens that his way also comes across like those G.I. Joe PSAs that Fenslerfilm made.
It’s also, at times, hard to believe this movie was 1979 and not, like, earlier. You’d think that by 1979, as blaxploitation had run its course, you’d think that a movie like Disco Godfather would have nowhere to play, but it did and it proved to be an influential film. It, along with several other Rudy Ray Moore scenes in his various movies, serves as inspiration to one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, Black Dynamite. The primary storyline of a badass that the entire town seems to love going on a crusade to clean up the streets is exactly what Black Dynamite used as its plot.
Well, let’s wrap things up, yes? Tomorrow, we have the penultimate episode of the first season of B-Movie Enema: The Series. This week, I’m watching Cycle Vixens, so head over to the B-Movie Enema YouTube Channel and check it out! Be sure to subscribe there and, I dunno, watch some episodes and like them or whatever it is you do to the YouTube videos.
Next Friday, come back here to check out my next text review. I’ll be taking a look at and going into some pretty deep detail on 1990’s Blood Games. So, you know what to do, Enemaniacs! Watch the episodes on YouTube, and come here to read the articles on the website! Until next week, PUT YO’ WEIGHT ON IT!