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Original one-sheet poster for Dolemite
|Directed by||D'Urville Martin|
|Produced by||Rudy Ray Moore|
|Screenplay by||Jerry Jones|
|Story by||Rudy Ray Moore|
|Starring||Rudy Ray Moore
|Music by||Arthur G. Wright|
|Cinematography||Nicholas Josef von Sternberg|
|Edited by||Rex Lipton|
|Distributed by||Dimension Pictures|
|Box office||$12 million|
Dolemite is a 1975 American blaxploitation crime comedy film and is also the name of its principal character, played by Rudy Ray Moore, who co-wrote the film and its soundtrack. Moore, who started his career as a stand-up comedian in the late 1960s, heard a rhymed toast about an urban hero named Dolemite from a regular at the record store where he worked, and decided to adopt the persona as an alter ego in his act.
Dolemite is a pimp and nightclub owner who is serving twenty years in prison after being set up by a rival, Willie Green (D'Urville Martin) and framed by corrupt detectives (including John Kerry) and the mayor (Hy Pyke). Freed thanks to lobbying for a pardon by fellow pimp Queen Bee (Lady Reed), he attempts to rekindle his reputation on the streets while trying to get his "Total Experience" club back under control. He has to face Green (in league with the mayor to get Black votes in exchange for immunity from prosecution) alongside corrupt detectives and drug dealers selling to the community. In the meantime, he trains his women in kung fu before coming face to face with Green and the detectives while an FBI agent (Jerry Jones) lurks in the shadows watching the proceedings.
- Rudy Ray Moore as Dolemite
- Lady Reed as Queen Bee
- D'Urville Martin as Willie Green
- West Gale as Reverend Gibbs
- John Kerry as Mitchell
- Jerry Jones as Blakely
- Vainus Rackstraw as Creeper
Moore first developed the character of Dolemite in his stand-up comedy routines, and later appeared on his 1970 debut album, Eat Out More Often, which reached the top 25 on the Billboard 200. He released several more comedy albums using this persona. In 1975, Moore decided to create a film about Dolemite, paying for most of the production out of his own pocket, and using many of his friends and fellow comedians as cast and crew. The film was directed by D'Urville Martin, who appears as the villain Willie Green.
Dolemite was released to DVD on September 13, 2005 by Xenon Pictures and also as part of a boxed set (The Dolemite Collection) on the same date. A widescreen, high definition remastered version, from an original print of the film, was released on Blu-ray disc on April 26, 2016 by Vinegar Syndrome. The Blu-ray also features the previously released open matte version as an alternate "boom mic" presentation.
A sequel, The Human Tornado, was released in 1976. A second sequel, The Return of Dolemite, was released in 2002 and was later re-titled The Dolemite Explosion for DVD release. A quasi-sequel, Shaolin Dolemite, starring Rudy Ray Moore as Monk Ru-Dee, was released in 1999.
The action comedy movie Black Dynamite (2009) is not a direct sequel, but is loosely based on and parodies Dolemite.
In popular culture
Snoop Dogg mentions Dolemite in his final verse on Dr. Dre's 1992 single "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang", and the character has also been name dropped in songs by Wu Tang Clan, Easy E, Beastie Boys, Lupe Fiasco, and A$AP Rocky. Additionally, a number of rappers, including Too $hort, Luther Campbell, Big Daddy Kane, and Del the Funky Homosapien have given testimony to Moore's influence on them and on rap generally.
A biographical film about Moore and the making of Dolemite, titled Dolemite Is My Name and starring Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore, was released theatrically and on Netflix in October 2019.
Schoolly D's "Signifying Rapper" was inspired by Moore's version.
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