Rage in Harlem

Rage in Harlem

Director: Bill Duke

Cast: Bill Duke, Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines, Robin Givens

     
 

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Bill Duke directs this quirky film adaptation of Chester Himes' crime novel -- a heavily plotted gangster tale with a sweet love story hidden underneath. The film begins in Natchez, Mississippi in 1956. During a police shoot-out with the mob leader Slim's (Badja Djola) gang, Slim's moll Imabelle (Robin Givens) takes off with a cadre of stolen gold. As a result,… See more details below

Overview

Bill Duke directs this quirky film adaptation of Chester Himes' crime novel -- a heavily plotted gangster tale with a sweet love story hidden underneath. The film begins in Natchez, Mississippi in 1956. During a police shoot-out with the mob leader Slim's (Badja Djola) gang, Slim's moll Imabelle (Robin Givens) takes off with a cadre of stolen gold. As a result, Imabelle is chased by Slim's mob from Mississippi to New York. By the time she reaches Harlem, she is broke and has to figure out a way to ditch the trunk full of gold. She finds herself at the annual Undertaker's Ball, where she sees the big and dumb Jackson (Forest Whitaker), a bumbling undertaker's assistant. She spots Jackson as a mark that she can use as a cover and latches onto him immediately. She moves in with him to hide out, but Imabelle becomes taken with his innocence. For his part, Jackson falls head over heels in love with her. But the Mississippi mob catches up with her and takes her away. Jackson calls in his street-wise brother Goldy (Gregory Hines) to help him rescue Imabelle. Jackson fears that Imabelle has been kidnapped. But Goldy knows better -- he still agrees to help him but Goldy wants the gold for himself.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
From its tense but amusing opening scene, in which a vicious black gangster has his henchman cut a huge mole off the nose of a double-crossing racist crime lord, director Bill Duke's A Rage in Harlem forgoes good taste in the name of exuberant entertainment. Forest Whitaker, who had worked primarily in more dramatic roles at the time, gives a genuinely hilarious performance as Jackson, the shy, naïve mortuary worker. Robin Givens vamps impressively as the pragmatic Imabelle, who flees Natchez and her boyfriend, Slim (the impressively menacing Badja Djola), with a trunk full of stolen gold. Danny Glover is also impressive as the soft-spoken but ruthless kingpin Easy Money. Duke elicits pitch-perfect performances from his cast. Jackson, Imabelle, and the rest of the characters teeter on the brink of cartoonishness, but these actors make them believable enough to lend their story surprising emotional weight. Author Chester Himes' work had previously been brought to the screen in Ossie Davis' Cotton Comes to Harlem, an enjoyable film from the blaxploitation era. Eddie Murphy had mined similar territory in his Harlem Nights, a creative and financial failure. But Duke's noteworthy feature debut, which competed for the Palme d'Or at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, succeeds at capturing the irreverent tone of Himes' novel, and creates a memorable vision of Harlem in the 1950s.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/28/2011
UPC:
0096009769291
Original Release:
1991
Rating:
R
Source:
Miramax Echo Bridge
Time:
1:48:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Forest Whitaker Jackson
Gregory Hines Goldy
Robin Givens Imabelle
Zakes Mokae Big Kathy
Danny Glover Easy-Money
Badja Djola Slim
Ron Taylor Hank
Willard E. Pugh Claude X
Aleta Helena Chappelle Actor
Edgar Godineaux Chorus Dancer
Eugene Robinson Henchman
Kiki Sheppard Actor
Tyler Collins Teena
Sam Williams Gus Parsons
Stack Pierce Coffin Ed
Helen Martin Mrs. Canfield
Wendell Pierce Louis
T.K. Carter Smitty
Leonard Jackson Mr. Clay
Reynaldo Rey Blind Man
Clebert Ford Porter
John Seitz Lester Bunton
Jack Beatty Sheriff
Birdie M. Hale 1st Domestic
Olivette Miller-Briggs 2nd Domestic
Beatrice Winde Clerk
John W. Hardy Reverend Gaines
Anthonia Dotson 1st Female Mourner
Ernest Perry Jackie
James Spinks Bartender
Cornelius Stafford Weasel
Tracy A. Taylor Skanky Whore
James Copeland Jailer
Kevin Ruthven Bus Driver
William L. Schwarber Goon
Tasha O'Bryant Minna
Arthur Burghardt Bo
Screamin' Jay Hawkins Himself
Leslie Dockery Chorus Dancer
Herbert Rawlins Chorus Dancer
Joni Palmer Chorus Dancer
Romelle Reaux Chorus Dancer
Kimberly Hester Chorus Dancer
John Parks Chorus Dancer
Mike Roscoe Chorus Dancer
Wynonna Smith Chorus Dancer
Hajna O. Moss Chorus Dancer
George Wallace Grave Digger
John Toles-Bey Jodie

Technical Credits
Bill Duke Director
Elmer Bernstein Score Composer
Kerry Boyle Producer
Curtiss Clayton Editor
Bobby Crawford Screenwriter
Robert Crawford Screenwriter
Julius Le Flore Stunts
K.C. Fox Set Decoration/Design
Terry Glinwood Executive Producer
William Horberg Executive Producer
Toyomichi Kurita Cinematographer
Steven G. Legler Production Designer
John Nicolella Co-producer
Nik Powell Executive Producer
Thomas A. Razzano Production Designer
Nina Ruscio Art Director
Otis Sallid Choreography
Nile H. Samples Costumes/Costume Designer
John Toles-Bey Screenwriter
Harvey Weinstein Executive Producer
Bob Weinstein Executive Producer
Forest Whitaker Co-producer
Stephen Woolley Producer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Rage in Harlem
1. Deal Gone South [7:10]
2. Morning Prayer [6:08]
3. New York City [5:40]
4. Dancing [8:34]
5. Getting Acquainted [8:28]
6. The Old Gang [7:40]
7. Life Savings [6:10]
8. Goldy [6:49]
9. A Brother's Help [8:31]
10. Easy Money [7:11]
11. Hot Pursuit [6:14]
12. Lost and Found [5:44]
13. Big Kathy [3:17]
14. The Rage [10:37]
15. Southbound Rail [9:24]

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