In the early 1970s, Pam Grier came to Detroit to promote her movie The Big Doll House, in which she had first starring role. While she was here, the vibe of the city left a lasting impression on her. As much as Pam loves Detroit, Detroit loves Pam right back. The Big Doll House was such a success here, its run had to be extended to meet demand. This weekend, over forty years later, the mutual love between Pam Grier and Detroit was as strong as it ever was during the Redford Theatre‘s Pam Grier festival of Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Jackie Brown with Ms. Grier making appearances at all three shows.
Having been a regular visitor to the Redford Theater for a few years, I’ve learned there are times when it’s best to arrive very early. I know to expect huge crowds for certain films (Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, any of the Christmas classics like White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life) and anytime a star makes an appearance. There have been times when I’ve gotten to the theater nearly an hour early and found the main parking lot already full, many of the best seats in the theater already taken, and huge lines for the concession stand and autographs.
I arrived at the Redford an hour early for Foxy Brown and wasn’t surprised to find the main parking lot already quite full. When I went inside, I was shocked to see no line at the concession stand and hardly any seats in the theater were taken. Instead, virtually every person there was in line to meet Pam and get autographs. That is something I’ve never seen happen before. Even when Tippi Hedren, Karolyn Grimes, and Shirley Jones were there, all of whom had very impressive lines for autographs, there was never a point where most of the people there were all standing in line for autographs.
Meeting Pam was an absolute pleasure. She is very friendly, approachable, and exactly as cool as you would imagine her to be. I brought a copy of her autobiography “Foxy: My Life in Three Acts” for her to sign and while she was signing it, I thanked her for coming out for this event. She told me she loves how the people of Detroit are so supportive of film and culture. I love that she appreciates that because that’s something I actively try to promote here on The Hollywood Revue by writing about places like the Redford and the Detroit Film Theatre and the wonderful events they have.
If you ever have the chance to see Pam make an appearance at an event, I highly recommend going. She has tons of amazing stories and she tells them all brilliantly. Before the movie and during intermission, she spoke about getting her start in movies, Quentin Tarantino, Richard Pryor, Tim Burton, being part of the Women’s Lib movement, her work on Showtime’s The L Word, her love for Detroit, and her love for animals. It was worth the price of admission just to hear her tell the story of the time she went to the Troubador in Los Angeles, met John Lennon, and ended the night sitting outside on the curb with the LAPD after John got into a fistfight. (The following day, she received a bouquet of flowers from John with a note apologizing for his behavior and thanking her for not hitting him.)
Most importantly, Pam was incredibly gracious and very sincerely thanked the audience for supporting her career and the film industry in general. She was wonderful and the audience was so enthusiastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better crowd to watch Foxy Brown with.