Super Fly T.N.T. (1973)

R | 87-88 mins | Drama | June 1973

Director:

Ron O'Neal

Writer:

Alex Haley

Producer:

Sig Shore

Cinematographer:

Robert Gaffney

Editor:

Bob Brady

Production Designer:

Giuseppe Bassan

Production Company:

Superfly, Ltd.
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HISTORY

The working titles of the picture were Super Fly Two and Super Fly II . The film’s title refers to a phrase uttered in the picture by the character “Priest," after he has dealt with the customs office, to explain how easily he handled the situation: “TNT: T’ain’t nothin’ to it.” A written statement in the end credits notes that the film’s soundtrack was available on Buddah Records. According to the picture’s pressbook, the name of the musical group that wrote and performed the musical score, Osibisa, was taken from the African dialect word osibi, which meant “criss-cross rhythms.” Although the film’s pressbook listed a running time of 103 minutes, most reviews gave a running time of 87 minutes, which was the length of the viewed print. The picture was a sequel to the highly successful 1972 production Super Fly (see above), also produced by Sig Shore and starring Ron O’Neal as Priest. Actress Sheila Frazier also reprised her role as “Georgia” from the first film. A modern source includes James G. Richardson and Henry Shapiro in the cast.
       According to the pressbook, associate producer Nate Adams, who appeared in the first film as an actor and served as the wardrobe designer, was personally responsible for the designing of O’Neal’s costumes in the sequel, as well as the rest of the fashions. As noted by the onscreen credits, the picture was filmed on location in Rome, Italy and Senegal, West Africa. Studio publicity added that interiors shot in Italy were filmed at Rome’s Centro Sperimentale, and that Minister Dem, who plays the general in charge ... More Less

The working titles of the picture were Super Fly Two and Super Fly II . The film’s title refers to a phrase uttered in the picture by the character “Priest," after he has dealt with the customs office, to explain how easily he handled the situation: “TNT: T’ain’t nothin’ to it.” A written statement in the end credits notes that the film’s soundtrack was available on Buddah Records. According to the picture’s pressbook, the name of the musical group that wrote and performed the musical score, Osibisa, was taken from the African dialect word osibi, which meant “criss-cross rhythms.” Although the film’s pressbook listed a running time of 103 minutes, most reviews gave a running time of 87 minutes, which was the length of the viewed print. The picture was a sequel to the highly successful 1972 production Super Fly (see above), also produced by Sig Shore and starring Ron O’Neal as Priest. Actress Sheila Frazier also reprised her role as “Georgia” from the first film. A modern source includes James G. Richardson and Henry Shapiro in the cast.
       According to the pressbook, associate producer Nate Adams, who appeared in the first film as an actor and served as the wardrobe designer, was personally responsible for the designing of O’Neal’s costumes in the sequel, as well as the rest of the fashions. As noted by the onscreen credits, the picture was filmed on location in Rome, Italy and Senegal, West Africa. Studio publicity added that interiors shot in Italy were filmed at Rome’s Centro Sperimentale, and that Minister Dem, who plays the general in charge of the revolutionary forces, was the Senegalese Minister of Protocol.
       In addition to noting the extensive cooperation the filmmakers received from the Senegalese government and army, studio publicity also stated that “Senegal’s two leading directors, Ousmane and Johnson, assisted as production executives in the African location shooting.” Mahama Johnson Traore (b. 1942), listed in the onscreen credits as Mahama Traore, is credited as an associate producer, but Ousmane Sembene (1923—2007), one of Senegal’s most famous directors, is not included in the onscreen credits.
       In a Jan 1973 pre-production article DV noted that Warner Bros, which released Super Fly , had put the filmmakers on a tight production schedule, as the company wanted to release the sequel on 15 Jun. In late May 1973, Var announced that Warner Bros. had dropped Super Fly T.N.T. without comment, and that it had been picked up for distribution by Paramount. According to a 12 Mar 1973 NYT article about the location shooting in Senegal, the production had a budget of $1.5 million, as opposed to the first film’s budget of less than $500,000. The Var review stated that Super Fly T.N.T. was made for “$750,000” plus deferments,” however, and noted that it originally was to be released by Warner Bros., but “at the last moment distrib backed away from the pic in presumed fear of black-press opposition to the film.” According to the 19 Jul 1973 Rolling Stone review, members of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, picketed Super Fly T.N.T. ’s New York premiere. As detailed in the above entry for Super Fly , that group and many others were very outspoken about what they perceived as negative portrayals of African Americans in both films.
       Super Fly T.N.T marked O’Neal’s directorial debut and was the only film in which he was credited as a writer. The only other feature film directed by the actor was the 1991 independent production Up Against the Wall . Super Fly T.N.T. marked the only motion picture score of the multi-cultural group Osibisa and the feature film debut of television actor Robert Guillaume, who became best known for his roles on such popular television series as Soap , Benson and Sports Night . Within the film, Guillaume sings the traditional Italian song “ O sole mio ” in the well-known restaurant Da Ciceruacchio in the Trastevere area of Rome. The film also marked the only theatrical motion picture screenplay written by author Alex Haley, known for his best-selling books The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Roots .
       An Apr 1973 DV news item reported that the New York Film Editors Local filed suit against Shore and his companies, Kaleidoscope Films, Ltd. and Superfly, Ltd., alleging that Shore had engaged in unfair, anti-union labor practices. That suit claimed that editor Bob Brady, who is listed in the onscreen credits of both Super Fly films, was illegally fired and Shore denied “promised employment” to another union editor, Eamon Connolly, who is also listed in the onscreen credits of both films. In addition to the suit, the outcome of which has not been determined, the local was pressuring Shore to become a signatory to the union contract. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Jul 1973
p. 4603.
Daily Variety
19 Jan 1973
p. 34.
Daily Variety
21 Feb 1973.
---
Daily Variety
25 Apr 1973.
---
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1973
p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1973
pp. 3-4.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
11 Jul 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Jul 1973.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Jul 1973.
---
New York Times
12 Mar 1973.
---
New York Times
16 Jun 1973
p. 13.
Rolling Stone
19 Jul 1973.
---
Time
9 Jul 1973.
---
Variety
30 May 1973
p. 3.
Variety
20 Jun 1973
p. 20, 28.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
The Sig Shore Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
Chief grip
Chief elec
Best boy
Stills photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Supv ed
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Cost des
Women's fashions
Men's fashions
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Orig mus comp, arr and scored by
Mus performed by
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd ed
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles
MAKEUP
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod secy
Unit pub
Unit pub, Rome
Press secy
SOURCES
SONGS
"O sole mio," music by Edoardo di Capua, lyrics by Giovanni Capurro
"Come Closer (If You're a Man)," "Prophets" and "Superfly Man," music and lyrics by Osibisa, performed by Osibisa.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Super Fly Two
Release Date:
June 1973
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 15 June 1973
Production Date:
began 22 January 1973
Copyright Claimant:
Superfly, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
11 June 1973
Copyright Number:
LP42547
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Movielab, Inc.
Duration(in mins):
87-88
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Italy, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Former drug dealer Priest, after making a big score in Harlem by betraying the corrupt police deputy commissioner, has moved to Europe to live a sedate life with his devoted girl friend Georgia. Despite his luxurious acquisitions, including a Lamborghini, fine clothes and an elegant Rome apartment, Priest is dissatisfied, as he does not know what he now wants out of life. One evening, Priest attends his weekly poker game, hosted by European entrepreneur Matty Smith. Although Matty and some of the players disparage his drug usage, Priest indulges in the cocaine offered by one player and, as usual, emerges the night’s big winner. Priest is irritated by the unexpected arrival of Dr. Lamine Sonko, a somber, dignified resident of Umbria, a West African nation. Sonko, who is eager to talk with Matty, does not disguise his feelings that Priest and the others are wasting their time playing cards, and the irate Priest leaves. When they are alone, Sonko reveals to Matty that the most recent weapons shipment supplied by Matty to the revolutionary forces represented by Sonko has been destroyed by mercenary troops hired by Umbria’s colonial government. Matty, who maintains only a financial interest in Sonko’s cause, tells him that while the diamonds with which Sonko pays him are of high quality, because Sonko is not in the diamond cartel, it is difficult and time-consuming to sell the gems. Although Sonko has always given him far more in diamonds than the weapons are worth, Matty refuses to do business with him again, suggesting that he find another buyer to whom he can sell the diamonds for cash, with which ... +


Former drug dealer Priest, after making a big score in Harlem by betraying the corrupt police deputy commissioner, has moved to Europe to live a sedate life with his devoted girl friend Georgia. Despite his luxurious acquisitions, including a Lamborghini, fine clothes and an elegant Rome apartment, Priest is dissatisfied, as he does not know what he now wants out of life. One evening, Priest attends his weekly poker game, hosted by European entrepreneur Matty Smith. Although Matty and some of the players disparage his drug usage, Priest indulges in the cocaine offered by one player and, as usual, emerges the night’s big winner. Priest is irritated by the unexpected arrival of Dr. Lamine Sonko, a somber, dignified resident of Umbria, a West African nation. Sonko, who is eager to talk with Matty, does not disguise his feelings that Priest and the others are wasting their time playing cards, and the irate Priest leaves. When they are alone, Sonko reveals to Matty that the most recent weapons shipment supplied by Matty to the revolutionary forces represented by Sonko has been destroyed by mercenary troops hired by Umbria’s colonial government. Matty, who maintains only a financial interest in Sonko’s cause, tells him that while the diamonds with which Sonko pays him are of high quality, because Sonko is not in the diamond cartel, it is difficult and time-consuming to sell the gems. Although Sonko has always given him far more in diamonds than the weapons are worth, Matty refuses to do business with him again, suggesting that he find another buyer to whom he can sell the diamonds for cash, with which he can then purchase the weapons. Meanwhile, Georgia, having made the acquaintance of African-American novelist Jordan Gaines, arranges for her and Priest to have dinner with Jordan and his European girl friend Lisa. Despite his initial reluctance to socialize with a stranger, Priest finds himself enjoying the company of a fellow expatriate. That night, when they return home, Georgia questions Priest about his moodiness, and he admits that he no longer knows what he wants to do, other than rise above his former existence as a hustler. Georgia reveals that she wants to start a family, but Priest vetoes the idea, stating that “the way this world is,” he cannot bring a child into it. He assures Georgia that he loves her, however, and assents that maybe someday they can have a baby. Meanwhile, Sonko approaches one of the poker players and offers to pay his gambling debts if he will procure information about Priest, who is financially independent. One day, the intellectual, socially conscious Jordan takes Priest on a sight-seeing tour of Rome, and the two men marvel at how lucky the Italians are to live amidst centuries of their own history, unlike African Americans. They discuss the political and economic situation of blacks in America and after Priest admits that he used to sell cocaine, he firmly tells Jordan that he is never “returning to the funk.” After an uncomfortable lesson with a high-society riding instructor, the sore Priest is approached by Sonko, who pleads with him to help Umbria by accepting the diamonds and purchasing the much-needed materials. Despite Sonko’s stirring proclamation that they are brothers in the same battle against colonial powers, Priest demurs, stating that he is no longer interested in “uptight deals.” When Georgia returns home that night, she finds a drunken Priest insisting that they leave Rome. Tired of their nomadic lifestyle, Georgia declares that she is happy in Rome and will not follow Priest as he constantly runs from self-awareness. Depressed and seeking focus, Priest spends a long sojourn in Africa, especially Umbria, and is deeply moved by the people and the poverty in which they live. Returning to Rome, Priest is met by Sonko, who is pleased when the former drug dealer questions him about the guns. At another poker game, Priest, who refuses an offer of cocaine, plays a grueling, high-stakes game and eventually wins a huge sum from Matty. When Matty asks for a few days to pay his markers, Priest offers to accept as payment the weapons needed by Umbria. Matty reluctantly agrees, and Priest’s next challenge is to get the guns passed through Italian customs. With the aid of a generous bribe, Priest is soon overseeing the loading of the guns, ammunition and grenades onto a plane that is to land at a small airstrip in the Umbrian countryside where the rebels are fighting. Sonko gives Priest his card and instructs him to contact him in Umbria if there is an emergency. After bidding farewell to the nervous Georgia, Priest boards the plane, which lands in Africa at night. Unfortunately, the governmental forces have been alerted to the shipment’s arrival and the mercenaries capture Priest, although the weapons are safely shepherded to the revolutionaries. Priest refuses to talk to Lefevre, the head of the mercenaries, even after Sonko’s card has been found hidden in his clothes. Lefevre orders his two henchmen, Rik and Rand, to torture Priest, but the resilient Priest refuses to divulge anything. He is tossed into a cell but revives after Rik and Rand throw a bucket of water over him, drenching the cell’s floor. Lefevre then calls Sonko, demanding the arms in exchange for Priest’s life. Although Sonko deplores the sacrifice of a good man, he knows that the struggle must continue, no matter what the cost. Priest cleverly fashions a weapon using the cell’s light switch, overhanging light bulb and the water-soaked floor, and after Lefevre departs to attend to business, Priest electrocutes Rik. He takes the dead soldier’s knife and slits Rand’s throat, then staggers out into the sunlight. In the brush, Priest is approached by three African men, and soon after, returns to Italy, where he is greeted by a relieved Georgia. Embracing Georgia, Priest eyes the airplanes overhead and looks forward to his future. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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