Shaft (1971) - Synopsis

Shaft (1971)

Super cool private eye John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) is heading to work through Greenwich Village when a shoe-shine boy warns him that two hoodlums are lying in wait at his office. Shaft surprises them and coolly throws one to his death through the window. He holds the other until he admits they were sent by Harlem gangster, Bumpy Jonas (Moses Gunn).

At the police precinct, Shaft is interviewed by Victor Androzzi (Charles Cioffi), a long-suffering white cop. Androzzi believes something big is about to erupt in the underworld and gives Shaft twenty four hours to investigate, threatening to revoke his license if he doesn't comply.

Bumpy Jonas surprises Shaft by calling to ask for his help in finding his daughter, Marcy, who has disappeared. Jonas claims that Ben Buford, the leader of a black militant organisation, is behind Marcy's kidnapping.

Shaft travels uptown to meet his old friend Ben (Christopher St. John) at his hideout. Gunmen burst in, and although Shaft and Ben manage to escape, the other militants are massacred. Jonas is the obvious suspect, but he insists that he was using Shaft to enlist Ben and his army to rescue his daughter. Shaft convinces Ben to help with this mission, at a price. Jonas is convinced that the Mafia are behind Marcy's disappearance, in an effort to usurp his own hold over the Harlem rackets.

Shaft traces the kidnappers to an Uptown hotel, then he and Ben's men plot their assault. One team work up from the kitchens, another down from the roof, until they have cornered the kidnappers. A fierce gun battle ensues and the Mafia guards are killed. Marcy (Sherri Brewer) is freed and her father pays the agreed price per head of $1000, funds which Ben will use to release political prisoners.