Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)

R  |   |  Action, Comedy  |  27 May 1970 (USA)
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Reviews: 27 user | 29 critic

Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are two black cops with a reputation for breaking the odd head. Both are annoyed at the success of the Reverend Deke O'Mailey who is selling trips ... See full summary »



(based upon the novel by), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Raymond St. Jacques ...
Rev. Deke O'Malley
Judy Pace ...
Uncle Budd / Booker Washington Sims
Emily Yancy ...
Capt. Bryce
Lou Jacobi ...
Lt. Anderson
Mabel Robinson ...
Dick Sabol ...
Lo Boy
Teddy Wilson ...
Barry (as Theodore Wilson)
Maxwell Glanville ...


Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are two black cops with a reputation for breaking the odd head. Both are annoyed at the success of the Reverend Deke O'Mailey who is selling trips back to Africa to the poor on the installment plan. When his truck is hijacked and a bale of cotton stuffed with money is lost in the chase, Harlem is turned upside down by Gravedigger and Coffin Ed, the Reverend, and the hijackers. Much of the humor is urban black, which was unusual in 1970. Written by John Vogel <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Introducing COFFIN ED and GRAVEDIGGER, two detectives only a mother could love.


Action | Comedy


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

27 May 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Algodón en Harlem  »

Box Office


$1,200,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(DeLuxe Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the car chase, the mirror on the driver's side of the police car gets shot off. Once the police car collides with the watermelon cart a few seconds later, the mirror reappears. See more »


Coffin Ed: What the hell do the attorney general, the state department, or even the President of the United States know about one god-damn thing that's going on up here in Harlem?
See more »


Referenced in Baadasssss Cinema (2002) See more »


Cotton Comes To Harlem
Music by Galt MacDermot
Lyrics by Joseph S. Lewis
Sung by George Aliceson Tipton (as George Tipton)
See more »

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User Reviews

Double black makes even blacker.
5 April 2011 | by (Groningen, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

This is an early blaxploitation flick, that would had probably been considered to be very racist, was it not directed by an African American director and not been a part of the early blaxploitation era.

I mean seriously, just think about it. Here we have a bunch of African American persons who are searching for a bale of cotton, at one point two characters crash into a cart of melons and in an attempt to control a large crowd, one of the characters throws a bunch of chickens into the crowd. But of course the movie isn't racist and is simply a silly black urban comedy, that pokes fun at lots of the prejudices against black society. And as a silly entertaining movie, this movie really works out well.

It by no means is a great movie though. The movie just doesn't always makes sense with its story and also the way it ends seems very random, though the characters all pretend like it was something they planned out. The movie is also often too silly for its own good and the movie really goes over-the-top with its comedy at times.

But luckily this all hardly goes at the expense of its entertainment value. I can definitely see a large crowd having tons of fun with watching this movie.

The movie really has some good characters in it and the two lead cops Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are great charismatic leading characters. I would had loved to see more movies featuring those two but only one sequel starring Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques in those roles got made. Just imaging Shaft times two and you have Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson. Not that the actors playing them are very impressive but they are just some two very charismatic and entertaining characters, who don't necessarily always play by the rules. Calvin Lockhart as the main villain of the movie is also a very good and entertaining villain and Calvin Lockhart is probably also being the best actor of the movie and about the only one who also had a decent acting career before and afterward.

But still biggest name involved with this movie was Ossie Davis, who directed this movie. It actually was his directorial debut and you could tell that this movie was low-key and fairly cheaply made. Considering those circumstance, this movie is even more an accomplishment from Davis. He actually directed a bunch of other blaxploitation flicks, that nobody has ever heard off and are even more obscure and hard to get than this movie already is. A bit of a shame, since he really seemed to be a director who understood and embraced the genre. But oh well, at least he still had an all the more impressive career as an actor though, so you don't have to feel bad for him.

By no means a great movie but it's a very entertaining one!


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