Black Caesar

Black Caesar

5.0 1
Director: Larry Cohen, Allen Balley, Margaret Avery, Myrna Hansen

Cast: Larry Cohen, Allen Balley, Margaret Avery, Myrna Hansen

     
 

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Cult director Larry Cohen (It's Alive) directed this violent blaxploitation film. Nasty racist John McKinney cripples a black shoeshine boy, who grows up to be Tommy Gibbs (Fred Williamson), the Godfather of Harlem. The crimelord now has his tormentor McKinney (Art Lund) in his pocket, based on the cop's mob ties. Tommy's traitorous girlfriend Helen (Gloria

Overview

Cult director Larry Cohen (It's Alive) directed this violent blaxploitation film. Nasty racist John McKinney cripples a black shoeshine boy, who grows up to be Tommy Gibbs (Fred Williamson), the Godfather of Harlem. The crimelord now has his tormentor McKinney (Art Lund) in his pocket, based on the cop's mob ties. Tommy's traitorous girlfriend Helen (Gloria Hendry) hands over the evidence, and McKinney moves in for the kill. But he may have underestimated the violent Tommy, who makes him shine his shoes in blackface while singing "Mammy." Rick Baker provided makeup effects, and James Brown did the music for this bloody oddity, followed the same year by Hell Up in Harlem. Cohen and Williamson got together 23 years later for an interesting (if unsuccessful) attempt at reviving the genre, Original Gangstas.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Black Caesar's successful cross-pollination of gangster-movie clichés and blaxploitation elements made it a huge box-office success and helped launch the acting career of ex-football player Fred Williamson, the once and future "Hammer." Writer-producer-director Larry Cohen (It's Alive) doesn't even attempt to conceal his appropriations from the old Bogart-Cagney-Robinson crime dramas, but he adapts them facilely to a contemporary inner-city setting, cramming the film with action and maintaining a driving pace that helps viewers overlook improbabilities of the plot. Williamson, whose nascent screen persona impressed The New York Times as "imposing, tough, and unflappable," plays former shoeshine boy Tommy Gibbs, a fatherless street tough who muscles his way into the notorious Cardoza crime family and eventually destroys it from within, becoming the Big Apple's first black "godfather." Minnie Gentry, Julius Harris, D'Urville Martin, and Gloria Hendry head the supporting cast, and the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown, performs the tunes that make up Black Caesar's sassy soundtrack. MGM's new DVD release includes the film's original theatrical trailer and a wry, witty commentary by Cohen.
All Movie Guide
This blaxploitation favorite delivers all the colorful action that fans of the genre crave as well as some surprisingly intense drama. Larry Cohen's script, which is loosely modeled on the gangster classic Little Caesar, delivers shootouts and fisticuffs galore, but devotes just as much time to exploring what pushed its driven main character into crime. Fred Williamson lives up to the character of Tommy Gibbs by delivering a performance that is charismatic and frighteningly fiery all at once. Other memorable performers include Julius Harris, who brings a genuine sense of regret to his role as Gibb's estranged father, and Art Lund, who delivers a skin-crawlingly sleazy performance as the hero's corrupt policeman nemesis. Black Caesar also benefits from some dollops of sly humor that temper its dramatic edge, the best example being an attack on a mob family which starts out with Godfather-styled music that soon gives way to hard-driving funk as Gibbs and his men attack. Unfortunately, Black Caesar suffers from technical rough edges; some of its special effects are less than convincing and the story becomes a bit too rushed as it attempts to tie up its loose ends in the last half hour. Despite these problems, Black Caesar's sense of conviction and kinetic energy pull it through. The film's gritty appeal is capped by a solid soul music score from James Brown, that is highlighted by the harrowing theme song "Down and Out in New York City." In short, Black Caesar is one of the true highlights of the blaxploitation genre and well worth the time for cult movie fans.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/22/2015
UPC:
0887090107402
Original Release:
1973
Source:
Olive Films
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen, Color]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Stereo]
Time:
1:35:00
Sales rank:
11,343

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Allen Balley Sport
Margaret Avery Actor
Myrna Hansen Virginia Coleman
Gloria Hendry Helen
Larry Lurin Carlos
Omer Jeffrey Tommy as a Boy
D'Urville Martin Rev. Rufus
Patrick McAllister Grossfield
Cecil Alonzo Motor
Val Avery Cardoza
Don Pedro Colley Crawdaddy
James Dixon Bryant
Minnie Gentry Mama Gibbs
Julius Harris Mr. Gibbs
Michael Jeffrey Joe As A Boy
Art Lund John McKinney
William Wellman Alfred Coleman
Fred Williamson Tommy Gibbs
Philip Roye Joe Washington

Technical Credits
Larry Cohen Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Richard Baker Special Effects
James Brown Score Composer
George Folsey Editor
Fenton Hamilton Cinematographer
Larry Lurin Production Designer
James Signorelli Cinematographer
Alex Vandekar Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Black Caesar
1. Chapter 1 [11:52]
2. Chapter 2 [14:04]
3. Chapter 3 [11:38]
4. Chapter 4 [12:38]
5. Chapter 5 [10:21]
6. Chapter 6 [10:10]
7. Chapter 7 [11:45]
8. Chapter 8 [12:43]
9. Chapter 9 [:12]

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Black Caesar 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago