Gordon Parks’ breakthrough detective film resonates with as much or more power than it did when it exploded on the scene back in 1971. Richard Roundtree leads the cast as John Shaft, the hero of Ernest Tidyman’s series of novels. The fact that Tidyman was a white novelist makes this film’s resonance all the more amazing.
Below left is one of Gordon Parks’ best known photographs, taken in 1942. Parks became a highly respected photographer, doing much of his best work for LIFE magazine. Rather than retiring, he became a filmmaker in the 1960’s, as well as writing books of poetry and even music for the sequel to Shaft—Shaft’s Big Score!