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Cotton Comes to Harlem [VHS] (1970)

Godfrey Cambridge , Raymond St. Jacques , Ossie Davis  |  R |  VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)


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Cotton Comes to Harlem [VHS] + Superfly (1972)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques, Calvin Lockhart, Judy Pace, Redd Foxx
  • Directors: Ossie Davis
  • Writers: Ossie Davis, Arnold Perl, Chester Himes
  • Producers: Samuel Goldwyn Jr.
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, HiFi Sound, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • VHS Release Date: January 9, 2001
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792839935
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,437 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One of the most influential Soul Cinema pix ever to shoot onto the screen, Cotton Comes To Harlem spawned the blaxploitation boom by delivering a "refreshingly different detective action yarn with soul and humor" (Cue) and an unbeatable mix of "fast-paced adventure [and] comic lunacy" (Pacific Film Archive). Detectives "Gravedigger" Jones (Godfrey Cambridge) and "Coffin Ed" Johnson(Raymond St. Jacques) are on the case and in everyone's face when they investigate Rev. Deke O'Malley (Calvin Lockhart)a brother whose "Back To Africa" campaign is nothing more than a big scam forbigga' bucks. But when $87,000 of O'Malley's laundered cash gets stashed in a bail of cotton, Gravedigger and Coffin find they're not the only dudes suddenly interested in soaring cotton prices! Trailing the bale all over Harlem, the detectives come up against the mafia, the police, black militantsand more in an all-out dash to nab the $87,000 cashand to 86 anyone who stands in the way!

Amazon.com

Based on Chester Himes's novel, this film marked actor-writer Ossie Davis's directing debut. Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques play Himes's volatile police detectives, Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, who are on the trail of white men who pulled an armed stickup at a Back to Africa rally in Harlem. The money belongs to the poor people who paid for a chance to return to the motherland--but was it really a stickup? Or is the flashy preacher at the center of the Back to Africa movement (Calvin Lockhart) involved in a scam to rip off his own people? The plot drags; the best part of the film are the performances (as well as spotting cameos by such actors as the then-unknown Cleavon Little) and the on-location shooting in parts of New York where a camera had rarely ventured previously. Redd Foxx shows up in a small part as a ragpicker that led to his role in TV's Sanford and Son. --Marshall Fine

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
"Cotton Comes to Harlem" is a solid, funny, and most of all, cool movie which was, besides "Shaft" and "Coffy," to set the trend of the black movies of the 70s. Look how Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques walk and talk, and you'll know the meaning of "style."
Based on Chester Himes's novel, the film follows the two super-cool cops who suspect that Rev. O'Malley's "Back to Africa" campaign (minimun entry 100 dallors needed) is a fraud to steal money from people living in Harlem. But things get complicated when, during the rally, the organization is attacked by masked gangsters who took the money of $87,000, and that was done under the nose of the very cops. Determined to nail the criminal, and possibly the preacher himself, the detective Gravediffer & Coffin start their investigation, and do it in their own fashion.
The film keeps the fast pace with a tightly knit web of characters including Reverend's beautiful wife Iris. But most charming part of the film remains the same today: its being funny and smart. In fact, you will see among violent actions suddenly unexpected humor. The best thing of the film is, in my book, the car chase scene that include "the cemetary chase" and "a flying guy." The film also ends with a showdown in the Apollo Theater (though I don't know whether the inside scene of it was really shot there) And the real Harlem locale of the 70s, which helps to create the authentic atomospher, would be someday a precious record of the New York City.
In short, this is a film Quentin Tarantino with his known flair for characters and story might have shot 30 years ago. Some part of the film look, I admit, dated today when you see women's parts are little better than secondary, just catering obligatory sex scenes.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Movie is Fine, the Description is Not Complete January 2, 2010
Format:DVD
This refers to the double feature version containing both "Cotton Comes to Harlem" and "Hell Up in Harlem".

I purchased the older DVD with just "Cotton Comes to Harlem" some years ago but was looking for a replacement with the correct aspect ratio, which is 1.85:1 per IMDb. From the description of this product, both here and elsewhere, it appeared to me that both films were available in both 1.33:1 and 1.85:1, a not uncommon occurrence.

Unfortunately, this is not correct: the package labling clearly states that "Cotton Comes to Harlem" is 1.33:1 and "Hell Up in Harlem" is 1.85:1.

The film itself is great. I enjoyed when I read the book, when I saw the film at the time it came out, and I enjoy it every time I see it even in P&S.

I just wish the product description had been more precise.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Words: Judy Pace! June 29, 2003
Format:DVD
Seeing Judy Pace in this movie is worth the price of admission alone! The movie itself has an interesting storyline and it does bounce around a little but is definately entertaining. This movie isn't as cliche as many of the other films in this genre. There are some good chase scenes and it was interesting to see Redd Foxx pre 'Sanford and Son'. I would consider this one of the most important movies of the blaxploitation genre.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Interesting than Good June 14, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This film might have been very funny when it first came out in 1970, but for recent audiences it's more interesting than good. Not much in the way of laugh-getting qualities. It is interesting to see the soon-to-be's that would later star in Black movies and TV shows of the 70s and having lived in Harlem for a while as a child in the early 70s, the locations bring back memories. But what i found fascinating (aside from watching that FINE Judy Pace) was Calvin Lockheart's portrayal of Deke O'Mally, which today looks like an ugly and eerily accurate prediction of Louis Farrakhan and other such leaders that were to come in the future.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars El Cojonu Speaks May 14, 2009
Format:DVD
Make no mistake about it, this is the funniest, most down with it movie made about life in the Hood back in the 70's.
Best characters: Calvin ( The Right Reverend Deke O' Malley - I'M I BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOUUUU ! ), and Redd at the end who winds up with the money and the chicks( Redd Style ! ).
The part of REV. O'Malley was a take off on Rev. Ike, a real life Rev. up in Harlem who dressed in Custom Made Silk Suits,Wore Mink Coats of different colors, Alligator Shoes and Borsalino Hats, Drove a Gold Rolls-Royce and lived in a Penthouse up in Riverdale in the Bronx. Rev. Ike was a man of his time, he always had a
Knockout Sister on his Arm and Transmited his sermons on Sundays from his Church up in Harlem; I remember him saying one time that the Lord didn't want him to be poor and neither any member of his Congregation, that they should all go out there and get rich and bring him some.
The Brother was Super Cool and Out-of-sight; they broke the mold when he was born.
How many of you out there remember Rev. Ike ?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny movie. July 10, 2007
Format:DVD
One of those 70's classic films that is a must have in your dvd collection. It would be nice if they could release the sequel to this movie. "Come Back Charleston Blue" was just as good. I wonder what are they waiting on?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought it was a funny movie! July 7, 2003
Format:DVD
I am a huge fan of blaxploitation movies of the 1970s. I thought it was really funny, especially in the beginning of the movie. This is the kind of movie that you can't take very seriously because a lot of it is cliche. Calvin Lockhart's character (Rev. Deke O'Malley) is conniving, but irresistable. You will enjoy this DVD!
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