7.3/10
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Ragtime (1981)

PG | | Drama | 25 December 1981 (USA)
A young black pianist becomes embroiled in the lives of an upper-class white family set among the racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events in early 1900s New York City.

Director:

Milos Forman

Writers:

E.L. Doctorow (based on the novel by), Michael Weller (screenplay)
Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... New York Police Commissioner Rhinelander Waldo
Brad Dourif ... Younger Brother
Moses Gunn ... Booker T. Washington
Elizabeth McGovern ... Evelyn Nesbit
Kenneth McMillan ... Willie Conklin
Pat O'Brien ... Delphin
Donald O'Connor ... Evelyn's Dance Instructor
James Olson ... Father
Mandy Patinkin ... Tateh
Howard E. Rollins Jr. ... Coalhouse Walker Jr.
Mary Steenburgen ... Mother
Debbie Allen ... Sarah
Jeffrey DeMunn ... Houdini (as Jeff Demunn)
Robert Joy ... Henry Thaw
Norman Mailer ... Stanford White
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Storyline

The story runs in the 1910's New York. Coalhouse Walker Jr. is a black piano player. He has won fame and fortune playing with a jazz band. Some white men do not like this situation, and one day they assault him and spoil his brand new car. Walker tries by all means to get justice, without an answer... Written by Michel Rudoy <mdrc@hp9000a1.uam.mx>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was Ragtime See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ragtime See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$151,351, 22 November 1981

Gross USA:

$14,920,781

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$14,920,781
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A ten-minute sequence on the Lower East Side featuring real-life social activist Emma Goldman was cut from the final print. In the sequence, Goldman takes Evelyn Nesbitt back to her apartment, explains her misgivings about women wearing restrictive undergarments, removes them from Nesbitt and tries to recruit her for the Socialist cause. During the scene, a voyeuristic younger brother followed them into the building and secretly watches Nesbitt undress. See more »

Goofs

The newsreel mentions an assassination attempt on President Theodore Roosevelt, presumably in 1904 when he was the incumbent running for a full term. It actually happened in 1912 when, as a former president, he ran again as the candidate of The Progressive Party. See more »

Quotes

Rheinlander Waldo: Where is J. P. Morgan?
Vernon Elliott: Oh, he's on an expedition down the Nile... in Egypt.
Rheinlander Waldo: Hmmm... Lucky him!
[Looks at the Captain]
Police Captain #1: Yes, sir!
Rheinlander Waldo: And contact some colored big shots to talk to us in case we need to negotiate.
Police Captain #1: Very good, sir. Anything else?
Rheinlander Waldo: Yeah, he said something about a car and a fire chief.
Police Captain #1: Conklin. Willie Conklin.
Rheinlander Waldo: Get him. I want to meet him.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in O.J.: Made in America (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

One More Hour
(1981)
Words & Music by Randy Newman
Sung by Jennifer Warnes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
It doesn't do the impossible, but so what?
16 September 2004 | by randysch1See all my reviews

A short commentary: Having read through a few of the comments here, I note that there are several which express disappointment that the movie didn't do the book justice. Personally, having read the book some time after seeing the movie, I can understand their point, but realistically it's the type of book which would be nearly be impossible to do justice to, as there are so many broad interwoven threads in the book that it would require at least a 6 hour movie to even scratch the surface, and even then, putting it all together into a singular coherent whole which would hold the viewer's interest for that long would be quite a mean feat indeed. So instead of looking at it as an attempt to fully capture the book, it might be best to simply appreciate it for what it is, rather than what it isn't. And I believe that on its own terms it succeeds admirably, and remains one of my favorite movies of all time.

Another way of looking at this, as an introduction to the book, rather than vice versa it has some value on those terms. Perhaps if I hadn't seen the movie I might never have happened upon the book, and never known what I'd missed.


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