6.5/10
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Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)

Two Harlem cops investigate a robbery, believing that a reverend has staged it in order to steal the money he's collected for a local fundraiser.

Director:

Ossie Davis

Writers:

Chester Himes (based upon the novel by), Arnold Perl (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Godfrey Cambridge ... Grave Digger Jones
Raymond St. Jacques ... Coffin Ed Johnson
Calvin Lockhart ... Rev. Deke O'Malley
Judy Pace ... Iris
Redd Foxx ... Uncle Budd / Booker Washington Sims
Emily Yancy Emily Yancy ... Mabel
John Anderson ... Capt. Bryce
Lou Jacobi ... Goodman
Eugene Roche ... Lt. Anderson
J.D. Cannon ... Calhoun
Mabel Robinson Mabel Robinson ... Billie
Dick Sabol Dick Sabol ... Jarema
Cleavon Little ... Lo Boy
Teddy Wilson ... Barry (as Theodore Wilson)
Maxwell Glanville Maxwell Glanville ... Caspar
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Storyline

Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are two black cops with a reputation for breaking the odd head. Both are annoyed at the success of the Reverend Deke O'Mailey who is selling trips back to Africa to the poor on the installment plan. When his truck is hijacked and a bale of cotton stuffed with money is lost in the chase, Harlem is turned upside down by Gravedigger and Coffin Ed, the Reverend, and the hijackers. Much of the humor is urban black, which was unusual in 1970. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Introducing COFFIN ED and GRAVEDIGGER, two detectives only a mother could love.

Genres:

Action | Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 May 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le casse de l'oncle Tom See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Formosa Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (DeLuxe Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Released the same day as Watermelon Man (1970), which also starred Godfrey Cambridge. See more »

Goofs

When Jarema puts on the paper bag, there is only one hole cut out - for his nose. Moments later, when he runs out into the hall, the bag now has eyeholes as well. See more »

Quotes

Iris: You took that ship, that big ol' lack ship, "Black Beauty," n' you smashed it down on that poor girl's head!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Inspector Coliandro: Magia nera (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

The Loving Ballad
(uncredited)
Written by Galt MacDermot & William Dumaresq
Sung by Denis Dillapena
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Tote That Cotton, Lift That Bale, It's Worth A Fortune
2 March 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

One of the better black exploitation pictures to come out of the Seventies was Cotton Comes To Harlem where Raymond St. Jacques and Godfrey Cambridge gave a black twist to the male buddy film that so many white actors had done over the years going all the way back to James Cagney and Pat O'Brien.

St. Jacques and Cambridge play a pair of police detectives assigned to a precinct north of Central Park where they've drawn duty being security for a rally headed by the Reverend Calvin Lockhart who's got a nascent Back to Africa movement going. He's collecting money at his rally and preaching up a storm when some masked bandits armed with automatic weapons take off with the proceeds. The money gets hidden in a bale of cotton and then the bale gets ripped off.

Our two detectives got a whole host of suspects, some white numbers gangsters from Pleasant Avenue, black militants, the good reverend himself who St. Jacques has a passionate dislike for and various and assorted other criminal types. Lockhart is one charismatic preacher and as he says himself, he could be another Marcus Garvey who immediately came to mind before Lockhart mentioned his name during the film.

John Anderson and Eugene Roche are St. Jacques and Cambridge's superiors in the police department, Anderson impatient with them and Roche inclined to give them plenty of room to maneuver. Judy Pace plays Lockhart's mistress and one seductive temptress if there ever was one. And we can't forget Redd Foxx in a delightful performance as an old rummy whose ship might just be coming in.

Cotton Comes To Harlem moves at a very fast pace with absolutely not a wasted frame of film. It holds up very well after almost 40 years even if those fashions and those Afros don't.


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