A genre of American film that surfaced in the 1970s featuring stereotypical representations of African-American culture that were mostly written and directed by white men. The films were nonetheless extremely popular among black audiences, possibly because they were among the handful of movies which dealt primarily with black men and women, bringing them to the foreground, and because they had endings which were generally favourable to the central character. When set in the North, blaxploitation films tended to take place in the ghetto and deal with pimps, drug dealers, and hit men; when set in the South, the movies most often took place on a plantation and dealt with slavery and miscegenation. Almost all of them featured exaggerated sexuality and violence. Some film scholars defend the movies today, arguing that the genre was instrumental in allowing African-Americans greater screen presence, as well as greater latitude in "mainstream" film-making as actors, directors, and writers. The genre lasted only a few years, dying out before the end of the 1970s, though their influence can still be seen in later films such as "New Jack City" (1991), "Dead Presidents" (1995), "Jackie Brown" (1997) and the most recent version of "Shaft" (2000). Pictured: Richard Roundtree as Detective John Shaft in "Shaft" (1971), the first major Hollywood success in the blaxploitation field.

The Wiz (1978)

Director: Sidney Lumet
Starring: Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Nipsey Russell, Lena Horne, Richard Pryor

A film based on the smash Broadway musical, which itself was based on L. Frank Baum's 'The Wizard of Oz'. Featuring Diana Ross as Dorothy, with Nipsey... Read more

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Starring: Melvin Van Peebles, West Gale, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales, John Dullaghan

Van Peebles wrote, directed and stars in this trendsetting work - which initiated the "blaxploitation" film cycle of the 1970s - about an African-Amer... Read more

The Big Doll House (1971)

Director: Jack Hill
Starring: Pam Grier, Judy Brown, Roberta Collins, Brooke Mills, Pat Woodell

This groundbreaking "woman behind bars" actioner became an instant cult classic. When the desperate, abused inmates of an all-female prison rebel agai... Read more

Black Dynamite (2009)

Director: Scott Sanders
Starring: Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield

Meet Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White, who also co-wrote), the smoothest, baddest cat on the street. He's a ladies' man and the man with a plan. He's... Read more

Cleopatra Jones (1973)

Director: Jack Starrett
Starring: Bernie Casey, Tamara Dobson, Brenda Sykes, Shelley Winters

Black, beautiful, brawny Tamara Dobson stars as Cleopatra Jones, the U.S. special agent with a style all her own! Plenty of violence and action as 6'2... Read more

Car Wash (1976)

Director: Michael Schultz
Starring: George Carlin, Ivan Dixon, Richard Pryor, Antonio Fargas, Lorraine Gary

A boisterous, funky farce featuring Richard Pryor, George Carlin and The Pointer Sisters as a few of the customers gliding through a famous California... Read more

The Greatest (1977)

Director: Tom Gries
Starring: Muhammad Ali, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Duvall, James Earl Jones

The fascinating life of boxing's great Muhammad Ali - with Ali playing himself - get the treatment in this curio with support by Ernest Borgnine, Robe... Read more

Superfly (1972)

Director: Gordon Parks, Gordon Parks Jr
Starring: Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, Sheila Frazier, Nate Adams

One of the most successful blaxploitation films ever made, with a blistering soundtrack by Soul legend Curtis Mayfield, 'Superfly' follows charismatic... Read more

Women In Prison Collection (2004)

Director: Jack Hill, Steve Carver, Gerry De Leon
Starring: Margaret Markov, Pam Grier, Lucretia Love, Paul Muller, Daniel Vargas, Judy Brow...

In the 1970s cult filmmaker Roger Corman produced a series of highly successful, groundbreaking 'Women In Prison' movies that hit paydirt on the drive... Read more

Blacula (1972)

Director: William Crain
Starring: Denise Nicholas, Gordon Pinsent, Vonetta McGee, William Marshall

William Marshall stars as an African Prince, cursed by Dracula himself centuries ago, to be one of the undead. He starts his reign of terror in modern... Read more