- 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, Michael Hausman
- Format: Color, HiFi Sound, NTSC
- Rated: Parental Guidance SuggestedPG
- Number of tapes: 2
- Studio: Paramount
- VHS Release Date: January 13, 1998
- Run Time: 155 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 166 customer reviews
- ASIN: 6300214257
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,744 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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Fact and fiction intertwine in Milos Forman's colorful kaleidoscope of E.L. Doctorow's sprawling novel of turn-of-the-century America. Anchored in the true story of the murder of architect Stanford White (Norman Mailer) by Harry Thaw (Robert Joy) over the affections of his wife Evelyn Nesbit (Elizabeth McGovern), Forman weaves a portrait of early 1900s America in a tapestry of intertwining fictional tales. The primary thread involves the proud black pianist Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Howard Rollins) and his demand for justice when a racist fireman destroys his automobile, which escalates into a reign of terror by Walker and a band of revolutionaries. A secondary story involves an ambitious immigrant artist (Mandy Patinkin) whose primitive flipbooks send him on the road to creating early cinema. Centering all of these stories in one way or another is an upper-class family known simply as Father (James Olson), Mother (Mary Steenburgen), and Younger Brother (Brad Dourif). James Cagney came out of a twenty-year retirement to play the irascible Irish police commissioner, a character created for the film. Forman's biggest departure from Doctorow's novel, however, is his focus on Walker's story, cutting away the other threads to little more than asides in the final half of the picture, the primary dramatic weakness of an otherwise rich evocation of America's past. Randy Newman's lyrical score and Miroslav Ondricek's understated cinematography earned two of the film's eight Academy Awards nominations --Sean Axmaker
Top customer reviews
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the father's exploits outside of his homeland, but...I cannot imagine how it could
have been any better, it never ceases to amaze me with the scope of the story and
the impeccable performances of the cast and crew.
The political expediency exercised at the conclusion of the movie will leave anyone with a conscience asking themselves, "How could they have done that and still sleep at night?"
It's a troubling ending involving numerous racially motivated decisions that can't help leave you feeling angry that what took place, even in this fictitious novel, had some validity in our to distant past.