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Black Caesar (1973)

 -  Action | Crime | Drama  -  7 February 1973 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,786 users  
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Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy, his leg is broken by a bad cop on the take, during a payoff gone bad. Nursing his ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Art Lund ...
D'Urville Martin ...
Reverend Rufus
Julius Harris ...
Mr. Gibbs (as Julius W. Harris)
Minnie Gentry ...
Momma Gibbs
Philip Roye ...
Joe Washington
William Wellman Jr. ...
Alfred Coleman
James Dixon ...
Patrick McAllister ...
Myrna Hansen ...
Virginia Coleman
Omer Jeffrey ...
Tommy as a Boy
Michael Jeffrey ...
Joe as a Boy


Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy, his leg is broken by a bad cop on the take, during a payoff gone bad. Nursing his vengeance, he rises to power in Harlem, New York. Angry at the racist society around him, both criminal and straight, he sees the acquisition of power as the solution to his rage. He performs a free-lance hit on a Mob contract to attract the attention of the head of a Mafia family. Reluctantly accepted into 'The Family,' he grows increasingly autonomous and aggressive, eventually starting a gang war. Written by Tad Dibbern <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

power | criminal | gang war | mob | mafia | See more »


Hail Caesar, Godfather of Harlem...The Cat with the .45-Caliber Claws!


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 February 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Caesar - Il Padrino nero  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Cameo: Andrew Duggan as 'man at shoeshine.' See more »


When the police officer follows Tommy across the street after he leaves Tiffany's, a passenger in a truck in the background can be seen waving frantically at the camera. See more »


Reverend Rufus: Mama! Does Tommy know you're here?
Mama Gibbs: Pray for him, Rufus... you were always a good boy, pray for him.
Reverend Rufus: Okay Mama, we'll pray for him.
See more »


Spoofed in Coonskin (1975) See more »


Mama's Dead
Composed by James Brown, Fred Wesley
Performed by James Brown
See more »

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User Reviews

This Caesar Comes To Bury You
29 August 2004 | by (brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

****SPOILERS**** Stylish and brutal "Black Caesar" is also a bit over-the-top in it's depiction of a Harlem hood working himself up to the top of the New York City mob syndicate and then losing it all in what seems like a matter of weeks if not days.Fred Williamson is at his all time baddest best as the super cool cat Tommy Gibbs the Harlem gangster with the heart of gold and fists of steel who takes on the Mafia with his brawn's and the crooked police and politicians with his brains and just when he's got it all blows it down the drain.

Captain McKinney, Art Lund, who gave Tommy when he was 14 years-old the nickname "Limpy", by busting his kneecap with his police nightstick, tries to do Tommy in by getting his former girlfriend Helen, Gloria Hendry, to steal a safe-deposit key from him. The key opens a box that contains the both explosive and incriminating Goosic ledgers that Tommy ripped off from Goosic's office when he was reviewing them. Goosic a top bag-man for the corrupt cops and politicians has a record of all the pay-offs that they got from the mob and elsewhere through the years. Tommy is using that information to blackmail McKinney, and all those corrupt officials in them, to keep the heat off him and keep him alive as well.

Later getting shot on a mid-town street Tommy kills the hood who shot him and escapes from McKinney's men by jumping into a taxi and then goes to Coleman, William Wellman,his back-stabbing lawyer's office. Coleman turned out to be murdered by McKinney in order for him to get his hands on the Goosic ledgers after he, Coleman, doubled-crossed his client Tommy by giving them to McKinney. McKinney plans to pin the murder of Coleman on Tommy,to cover up his crime! In short McKinney double-crossed the double-crosser, Coleman, to frame the double-crossed,Tommy, with a murder rap.

McKinney instead of killing Tommy when he surprises him at Coleman's office forces him it spit-shine his shoes, now that's really rubbing it in. Tommy knocking his gun out of his hand paints McKinney's face with shoe polish and forces him to sing "Mammy", McKinney's singing is plain horrible, before he smashed his head in with the shoe-shine box killing him. Still badly wounded Tommy goes to his old neighborhood in Harlem and is attacked by a gang of young toughs, Tommy Gibbs wannabes, but survives the ordeal to make a sequel to the movie "Black Caesar": "Hell up in Harlem".

The most unusual aspect about the film "Black Caesar" is that it was so successful that it spawned a sequel the same year, 1973, that it was released. Even though "Black Caesar" was to take place at the time that it was made and we see at the end of the movie a date, as if it had great historic and momentous significance, which flashed on the screen against the New York City skyline as being August 20, 1972? What exactly was that day supposed to be in world history?

In the "Black Casear" sequel "Hell up in Harlem" were shown in the movie that most of the events takes place two or three years into the future or in 1975 and 1976 not 1973 when the movie was made and released! It's as if the film were a sci-fi not crime movie! Now how's that for keeping the right time!

5 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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