Trouble Man actor Robert Hooks is just so damn cool that surely he’s playing our hero Mister T as himself. A man brimming with charisma and super fine suits, a beautiful apartment building filled with 70’s chic and the best stereo system equipment that money can buy. His girl Cleo (Paula Kelly) is sweet and loving and will do anything for her man and T repays her with his deep respect and love. Yeah there might be other ladies but hey, Cleo is his girl.
Miscellaneous honey – “When am I gonna see you again baby?”
Mr T – “I’m gonna have to think about that girl!”
Pulling up in his brand new 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV right outside his office, the local pool and billiards club run by the his loyal friend Jimmy (Bill Henderson), T is respected by everyone. He’s a Coca Cola guzzling sharp shooting pool player who won’t be hustled by no rookie. He demands respect and gives respect, he’ll sort any problem out himself if he has to, he knows how to get results. Mr T is the ghetto fixer on the block and an all-round top bloke. Surely no one’s gonna be stupid enough to mess with Mr T?
Tagline – His friends call him Mr. T. His enemies call for mercy!
You know who’s just stupid enough? None other than John Boy Walton Sr from the bloody Waltons, that’s who! Ralph Waite plays the cracker drug trafficking Pete Cockrell alongside his partner in crime Chalky Price played by Paul Winfield. These two up and coming hoods have their eyes firmly fixed on moving up the ladder. Gunning for big time rival boss Big (Julius Harris) but unfortunately for these bad guys they knocked over a heap of trouble and one thing you don’t mess with is trouble, especially one named Mr T the Trouble Man.
Even the cops, lead by Captain Joe Marx (William Smithers) don’t get it easy when Mr T is about. He knows his rights and all the loopholes and frankly he’s just a damn nice guy, so things don’t usually go their way down at the cop shop.
The brilliant thing about this film is it plays it pretty straight down the line, it’s not over the top blaxploitation and is happy to deliver a superb little gangsters, crime and cops story. Fits in perfectly with Across 110th Street. Everyone plays their part well but this whole film is held together with that wonderful performance from Robert Hooks. You’re rooting for the guy from the get go, as Mister T really don’t take no shit.
Mr T – “Now get out! The two of you are fuckin up a nice day!”
Some Random Wolfie Observations
There’s some crazy Trouble Man and Star Trek connection going on here which is very weird. Robert Hooks played Fleet Admiral Harry Morrow in the 3rd outing of the Star Trek films The Search For Spock. Paul Winfield played Captain Clark Terrell Starfleet officer in Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan. And cop William Smithers played a Commanding officer R M Merik of the Federation Merchant Marines in the original series.
Dancer, actress Paula Kelly also posed for Playboy Magazine back in 1969 and she had some great parts (calm down Wolfie hehe) in two of my favorite films The Andromeda Strain and Soylent Green
Actor, director Ivan Dixon made a whole host of TV shows but only directed two films, this one and the bonkers and fun The Spook Who Sat By The Door. Keep an eye out, coming to a blog post soon.
And last and by no means least, that gorgeous perfect soundtrack is by the one and only super soul legend Marvin Gaye. Oh man it such a masterclass score. One I picked up on vinyl when I was about 18 and it’s a treasure. The main theme tune plays out in full in the opening scenes and be sure to listen out for the mellow “Don’t Mess With Mister T” and the funky “T Plays It Cool”
Just sit back and chill to the tunes or go check the film to root for Mister T if you haven’t seen it before. It’s a real treat and a lot of fun. I had seen this on VHS back in the late 80’s but I didn’t really remember a thing so it was brilliant to revisit it.
Keep it cool….. Mikey Wolfie