BLACK EYE. Warners, 1974. Fred Williamson (PI Shep Stone), Marie Cheatham, Rosemary Forsyth, Teresa Graves, Floy Dean, Richard Anderson, Richard X. Slattery, Bret Morrison. Based on the novel Murder on the Wild Side (Gold Medal, paperback original, 1972). Director Jack Arnold. Available for rental at Vudu/Fandango.

   The nicest thing you can say about Black Eye is that it will probably do no lasting harm to Jack Arnold’s reputation. In his hey-day, Arnold directed solid-if-minor classics like Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Tarantula, and The Tattered Dress. He directed Orson Welles in Man in the Shadow and some sources credit him with parts of Touch of Evil. Sad to see him, twenty years after, wasting his time and ours on a lackluster “blaxploitation” pie like this.

   Not that Black Eye is terrible — it’s just not very interesting. In fact, it has some pretty good credentials: based on a Gold Medal Original by Jeff Jacks; starring ethnic auteur Fred Williamson, with help from Teresa (Get Christie Love) Graves as his sexually ambivalent girlfriend and Brett Morrison (Radio’s The Shadow) as a sleazy suspect.

   There are one or two passable fight scenes, and a car chase of flickering interest, but by and large this story of… of … what’s it about? … oh yeah, something about drug dealers and a fancy cane stolen from a dead movie star. Well, it leaves one wondering why they bothered.

— Reprinted from The Hound of Dr. Johnson #7, May 2000.