Former Flash Gordon Sam Jones plays another Sunday-funnies superstar as The Spirit, the crime fighter formerly known as square-jawed, straight-and-narrow cop Denny Colt. When he's shot by a baddie and presumed dead, Denny takes advantage of the situation by donning the teeny-tiniest of blue masks to disguise his identity as The Spirit, who sets about cleaning Central City of its crime problem, vigilante-style. That no one recognizes him is ludicrous, but let it ride that's just the style and, er, spirit of the piece.
Directed by blaxploitation pioneer Michael Schultz (Car Wash, Cooley High) and written by Steven E. de Souza a year before his big breakthrough (Die Hard), the telefilm bears several unfortunate hallmarks of its era: namely, big hair on the ladies, a synth-sax score and multiple Rick James reference.
But The Spirit also boasts a vibrant color palette that predates Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy, good humor that's mostly meant to be and a general pulp vibe as enjoyable as ice-cold OJ. Says our superhero, twice, "Crime, especially murder, is never a laughing matter," but he obviously hasn't seen his own show. Rod Lott