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Black Caesar 1973

4.5 out of 5 stars (65) IMDb 6.4/10

A racist, corrupt cop partially cripples a young black boy who later rises to power and becomes the kingpin of crime in Harlem.

Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry
1 hour, 33 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Larry Cohen
Starring Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry
Supporting actors Art Lund, D'Urville Martin, Julius Harris, Minnie Gentry, Philip Roye, William Wellman Jr., James Dixon, Val Avery, Patrick McAllister, Don Pedro Colley, Myrna Hansen, Omer Jeffrey, Michael Jeffrey, Allan Bailey, Cecil Alonzo, Francisco De Gracia, Larry Lurin, Andrew Duggan
Studio MGM
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 4, 2005
Format: DVD
Black Caesar (1973) is one heck of a good movie. I hate the term blaxploitation that is used to describe movies of this genre because it implies that these sorts of films are somehow second-class entries in the world of cinema. Black Caesar is a first-class ride from start to finish, taking as much from classic gangster films of the 1930s and 1940s as it does from earlier blaxploitation films such as Shaft. Larry Cohen gave us a tough, mean, dirty, gritty film that tells it and shows it like it is: plenty of cursing, gunplay, blood, profanity, nudity, and racism. I have heard that the starring role was originally written for Sammy Davis, Jr. Nobody loved Sammy more than I do, but there's just no way he could have done the things that Tommy Gibbs does effectively. A lot of people deride the acting skills of Fred Williamson, which makes no sense to me; the man is just fantastic in this film.

Tommy (Williamson) grew up on the streets of Harlem, where the living was hard. When a corrupt, racist cop smashed up his leg at a pay-off exchange gone wrong, young Tommy's future was set. Eight years in prison taught him everything he needed to know to pull off his master plan of becoming the man who runs Harlem. Just after he limps back into town, he scores a mafia hit in broad daylight and uses that audacious act to nose his way into the local Family. Back then, the Mafia didn't make a habit of embracing blacks, no matter how useful they could be. All Tommy asks for is a block in Harlem to call his own; he gets it, and a new reign of terror begins as Tommy and his associates begin cleaning house. At first, they talk about helping the blacks in the community at the same time, but this whole thing is really just about the money and the power.
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Format: VHS Tape
SHAFT, SUPERFLY and THE MAC were considered the grand-daddies and MVPs of the Blaxploitation genre, however, I think HELL UP IN HARLEM was the one that really got the popular vote... (My fave actually is ACROSS 110th STREET and THREE THE HARD WAY then BLACK CEASAR and HELL) - - Hell up in Harlem was the Sequal to BLACK CEASAR, but it was much more fast paced. In fact, basically it was BLACK CEASAR without the plot. Its kinda... the post show payback time. BLACK CEASAR basically is HELL UP IN HARLEM with more plot and charactor depth.. Its a story about rising to the top from the bottom, how to play a person and change the tables, but the danger of letting success get to your head (o.k. in a blaxsploitationish way...) If that aint enough JAMES BROWN did the soundtrack - - I love Durville Martin in the role of his boyhood friend turned a phony preacher who eventually finds God - - at an inopportune time. This is a great watch, and the directing and acting are actually quite good. For a comedic take on this Genre... dont forget to watch IM GONNA GET YOU SUCKA ! (The shots of the gritty streets of NYC are incredible by the way... second only to Superfly and Cotton Comes to Harlem.)
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Format: VHS Tape
Those of us who know what it takes to make a powerful film know that you don't need a gargantuan budget and a big-name director. This stylish, gritty crime film from the 1970s "blaxploitation" library stars Fred Williamson as Tommy Gibbs, a tough, confident hood who works his way up the organized crime ladder in New York City. Director Larry Cohen perfectly blends elements from DePalma's "Scarface", 1930s gangster films, and the powerful, in-your-face violence is expertly complemented with the themes of loyalty, redemption, and greed (The scene in which Tommy's gang heads a bloody gun battle at a Mafia pool party was exceptionally well done). The performances were all convincing, especially D'urville Martin's over-the-top portrayal of Tommy's preacher friend. Combining raw, uncompromising violence, a complex morality tale, a dynamic soundtrack from the godfather of soul, James Brown, and believable performances, this film is a powerful journey into the realm of organized crime and its a shame that more people don't know about this movie. So for those of you who like big-budget, socially acceptable Hollywood garbage with action scenes almost completely lacking adrenaline, go see a James Cameron film. If you want an honest, uncompromising character study, definitely check out this underappreciated gangster flick. Don't miss a particularly entertaining scene in which Tommy gets knife happy on one of his victims in a barber shop, cutting off a certain appendage. This scene receives an indirect if perverse tribute in Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs."
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Format: VHS Tape
Usually when the word "blaxploitation" is heard by a moderate movie buff, the first film that comes to mind is something like SHAFT or SUPERFLY. Now that is a pity because even though they're both good films their enterainment and personality level dosn't manage to reach BLACK CAESAR. This film is excellent, violent, funny (mostly unintentionally) and fairly unusual for a blaxploitation film; the main character, Tommy Gibbs (Fred "The Hammer" Williams) is a complete loser who starts of as a shoe-shine boy who gets it from white coppers, then he can't get the girl he wants and he ends up getting gunned down in front of Tiffany's! Director, Larry Cohen (IT'S ALIVE, GOD TOLD ME TO) also manages to capture a lot of Harlem's sleazy atmosphere. James Brown's funky themesong 'Down and Out of New York City' go's down nicely too. Fred and Larry returned to make a sequel (!) HELL UP IN HARLEM (despite the fact that he dies here!). In a recent interview with The Hammer in Shock Cinema, magazine he says that he dosn't really have any memories of Cohen except that he was a very weird guy!
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