The ’70s-set film tells the story of how multi-hyphenate Rudy Ray Moore launched a movie career with one of the most popular Blaxploitation films of all time.
The riotous first trailer for “Dolemite Is My Name!,” a new original feature from Netflix based on the life and work of blaxploitation hero Rudy Ray Moore, has arrived in fitting style. Starring Eddie Murphy and directed by “Hustle & Flow” director Craig Brewer, the new film was enned by Golden Globe and Emmy Award winners Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (“Ed Wood,” “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson”). It tells the story of how Moore, a larger than life comedian, singer, actor, and film producer, launched a movie career in the 1970s with one of the most well-known Blaxploitation films of all time, “Dolemite.”
Moore rode the Dolemite character he created into a successful career that spanned four decades. Honing his craft in comedy clubs, he released several comedy albums starting with 1959’s “Below the Belt.” Success, however, wouldn’t come until a trio of raunchy albums he released between 1970 and 1971: “Eat Out More Often,” “This Pussy Belongs to Me,” and “The Dirty Dozens.”
Loaded with explicit depictions of sex acts and graphic violence, the albums weren’t marketed to the mainstream, but they found audiences primarily among black audiences looking for politically incorrect, anti-establishment material, and grew in popularity via word-of-mouth. Unable to get work in Hollywood, Moore used the money he made from his album sales to finance the movie that would eventually become 1975’s “Dolemite.”
The ultimate “hood hero,” skilled in the martial arts, and of course known for his sexual prowess, Dolemite was a pimp with a team of kung-fu-fighting prostitutes. After getting set up by a rival which sends him to prison, his friend and fellow pimp Queen Bee breaks him out, and both plot revenge.
Released by 1970s exploitation label Dimension Pictures, the low-budget film was quite successful and led to multiple sequels, starting with “The Human Tornado” in 1976. In total, Moore appeared in roughly 20 feature films in a career that spanned 30 years, including the 1997 Halle Berry comedy “B*A*P*S.”
He also continued to release comedy albums that appealed to a loyal fanbase that endured through the 1970s and 1980s, even though much of the work failed to break into the mainstream, especially among white audiences. Moore gained exposure to a new generation of younger fans in the latter half of his career, thanks to the sampling of his album work by rappers, some of whom he also collaborated with, including 2 Live Crew, Schooly D, Big Daddy Kane, and Snoop Dogg.
He died in October 2008 at 81 years old due to complications from diabetes.
Netflix has high hopes for the Eddie Murphy film, which will focus specifically on the period in Moore’s life when he struggled to make it in Hollywood, and opted to strike out on his own to make “Dolemite.” Murphy is joined by a who’s who cast of black comedians, including Chris Rock, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Keegan-Michael Key, Luenell, Wesley Snipes, Tituss Burgess, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.
The film will hit Netflix and select theaters sometime this fall, which puts the film in the thick of awards season. Watch the rollicking first trailer for “Dolemite Is My Name!,” thanks to Entertainment Weekly, below.