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4.2 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviews

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(Nov 16, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Based on the popular novel by E.L. Doctorow, RAGTIME tells the story of four New York families at the turn of the 20th century. Starving immigrant artist, Tateh sets off to make his fortune in Hollywood, but along the way encounters showgirl Evelyn Nesbit who is at the center of a murder investigation. Meanwhile, an upper-class family finds their seemingly perfect existence ruined when black pianist Coalhouse Walker Jr. begins to romance a pregnant girl living in their home.

Special Features

  • "Remembering Ragtime"
  • Deleted scene

Product Details

  • Actors: James Cagney, Elizabeth McGovern, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Brad Dourif, Moses Gunn
  • Directors: Milos Forman
  • Writers: E.L. Doctorow, Heinrich von Kleist, Michael Weller
  • Producers: Bernard Williams, Dino De Laurentiis, Fred Sidewater, Gary Khammar
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, Surround Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004
  • Run Time: 156 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002WZTO8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,825 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ragtime" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I can't overemphasize the level of disappointment I have at the hack censorship Paramount management has engaged in with the DVD release of Ragtime. How they got Milos Forman to participate in adding commentary to that blatant smear of his efforts is is beyond me.

Does the studio actually think that diluting the film to "reposition" it (ergo, move it from an R to a PG rating) is going to dramatically grow its appeal? The core market for this DVD is the universe of film fans old enough to fondly remember seeing the original theatrical release in the early 1980s -- but what the studio is offering them (as many reviews here clearly state) is unacceptable.

I want to see Elizabeth McGovern's entire performance, Paramount - so I went to the secondary wholesale market and purchased a new old stock VHS copy, which contains the FULL original release.

Or put another way, one less DVD sale for you.

Because yes, while it's your right as the copyright holder, I won't purchase censored goods.
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Format: DVD
No question that Ragtime is a good movie, but there's also no question that for a significant number of people, Elizabeth McGovern is a major reason for buying this DVD. If so, and if the visual appeal is an essential part of that, then you should know that what is on this DVD is not what was in the theatrical release. I haveven't seen the VHS version, so I don't know if it was similarly butchered, but I really don't understand the point of this sort of stuff, and I find it irritating. I can understand adding scenes to a "director's cut" in a non-theatrical release, but under no circumstances does it make sense to me that scenes that were present in the theatrical release should be deleted in the non-theatrical releases. To make matters worse, the back of the box says "deleted scenes". There is a deleted scene that was not in the theatrical release, but it isn't worth watching, and it certainly doesn't make up the scenes that were present in the theatrical release and that have been cut out of this DVD. In this case, "deleted scenes" should be taken to mean, "scenes that you probably remember from the theatrical release have been cut from this version."

Anyone who objects to this sort of foolishness in principal should boycott this DVD. This isn't the first time that I have encountered this. It seems to me that the studios should feel some sort of sense of obligation to not do this, whether artistic or ethical.
16 Comments 194 of 207 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on May 18, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
If there were ever a movie that could be dubbed flawless, I think Ragtime is it. Milos Forman must have travelled back in time, bought ever little piece of the past, and carried it back with him to 1981. Everything is superb, from the costumes to the motor cars, from the buildings to the boardwalk, from New Rochelle to the Lower East Side.
I think one thing that may have been lost to some viewers, however, are the true historical characters and news events portrayed in Ragtime. Evelyn Nesbit (Elizabeth McGovern) for example, was a real person and most events in the film concerning her really happened in 1906, including the incident on the roof top cafe of the Madison Square Garden. Even the song played when the 'incident' occurred, I Could Love a Million Girls from the operetta Mamzelle Champange, is historically accurate. This, of course, is only an example of the host of real characters presented in the film, including Teddy Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington.
I'd have to say that my favorite aspect of the film would have to be the soundtrack. As a fan of orchestrated ragtime and palm court music I was relieved to hear music true to the era, rather than music true to OUR era. It should be pointed out, however, that while not imposing, music is heard during most of the film (A plus for some, a minus for others).
Historical accuracy, beautiful costumes, hundreds of old cars, historical buildings, exciting music, drama, as well as clever comedy supplied by a delightfully dim Evelyn Nesbit, combine to form a film that can only be classified as; An exciting, historically accurate, prestine, and superb film about everything turn-of-the-century.< ...I recently discovered that there IS a DVD version of Ragtime. Sadly, at least for now, it is only available in Europe, in the European DVD format...
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Format: VHS Tape
A complex, engaging, colorful, masterpiece. Milos Forman has never disappointed as a director. Typical of him, he captures America better than just about any American director. The cast is superb. Howard Rollins, Jr. is nothing short of amazing as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. Elizabeth McGovern, Mary Steenburgen, James Olson and Brad Dourif also give great performances.
I have admittedly not read the book, nor have I seen the Broadway musical. I don't know what EL Doctorow thinks about the movie of his book (I gather he is not crazy about it). But the film has a wonderful pace and the soundtrack is stunning as well.
I think it is a crime that the soundtrack is not available on cd and the movie not available on DVD!
1 Comment 13 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
"Ragtime" is a great, vastly underrated materpiece of the early 1980s, before slasher flicks and Indiana Jones / Star Wars sequels turned American cinema into an arrested-adolescent male fantasyland. This is a complex, audacious reconsideration of 20th century America as seen through the lens of class, race and infamy (just right for the America of the 21st century). Milos Forman's adroit and subtle directing skills were never more in tune with a project than with this one, and he brings a wistful, evocative and ultimately forlorn grace to a long-ago time that still resonates today. Forman's literate style frames each scene with specific intent yet he never loses sight of the evanescence of these moments.

This film is also full of top-notch performances. Howard E. Rollins Jr. received the bulk of the praise at the time of the film's release for his ostentatious role as Coalhouse Walker Jr. and he makes the most of his plum part. He lost the Oscar he so richly deserved to sentimental favorite John Gielgud ("Arthur") but that doesn't diminish his accomplishment. Still, there are so many other performances of equal merit. Scene stealer Elizabeth McGovern lacks the expertise of her costars, yet her comedic turn is delightful through and through. Brad Dourif effectively provides creepy emptiness and Mary Steenburgen (especially) a quiet resolve that instills a firm feminism into this Victorian tale. For once, Mandy Patinkin's over-the-top delivery is shown to good advantage and Kenneth McMillan is thuggish villiany incarnate. There are two other performances deserving special mention. James Cagney (82 years-old) came out of retirement to do this film. He may have been infirm and feeble at the time, but his subtle authority and steely resolve resonate powerfully.
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