6.6/10
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Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)

R | | Action, Comedy | 27 May 1970 (USA)
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 »

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(based upon the novel by), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Rev. Deke O'Malley
Judy Pace ...
Iris
...
Uncle Budd / Booker Washington Sims
Emily Yancy ...
Mabel
...
Capt. Bryce
...
Goodman
...
Lt. Anderson
...
Calhoun
Mabel Robinson ...
Billie
Dick Sabol ...
Jarema
...
Lo Boy
Teddy Wilson ...
Barry (as Theodore Wilson)
Maxwell Glanville ...
Caspar
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Action | Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 May 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Algodón en Harlem  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,200,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(DeLuxe Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Released the same day as Watermelon Man (1970), which also starred Godfrey Cambridge. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[Starts handling his revolver]
Bryce: Say, do you have to play with that thing?
Gravedigger Jones: I'm insecure, Captain.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Harlem Aria (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

My Salvation
Music by Galt MacDermot
Lyrics by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Sung by Melba Moore
See more »

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User Reviews

 
gets better every viewing.
31 August 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Over the years, I've seen this movie on old, grainy, scratchy prints with runny color and muffled sound. I just viewed the DVD of this movie, and it's the first viewing I've had of a decent print with a decent video transfer. This has led me to revise what I long thought of the film.

First revision: I hadn't before realized how good the cinematography is. The images are detailed, well-composed, and carefully lit; the editing is sharp without being obvious.

I also hadn't recognized how good the acting is; the actors are all energetic without chewing up the scenery, they are clearly working hard to capture the right tone for the piece without looking like they're working hard.

Finally, now that I can hear all the dialog clearly, I realize, first, just how funny it is, and second, just how true to the source novel it is. Although Davis adds touches here and there, and of course some of the novel gets left out, Davis is really making a strenuous effort to remain true to the spirit of Chester Himes, one of the finest American novelists writing in the crime genre.

Because Davis pushes his characterizations perilously close to stereotypes, the film will probably never receive the recognition it deserves. I think Davis manages to restrain the stereotyping at all the right moments, and the whole film comes together beautifully. In short, this is a true classic.


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