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Despite it's obvious lack of a huge budget and the wildly out-of-style
fashions and slang (yes, kids..we really DID dress and talk like that back
in the '70's...I KNOW...I was THERE) UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT shouldn't be
passed up when it's shown on your cable or satellite provider
Sidney Poitier (who directed) and Bill Cosby play two working stiffs who sneak out of their homes to hang at Madame Zenobia's, a high-class after-hours joint. After bluffing their way in, they immediately set about enjoying themselves at the gambling tables and are on a roll when the joint is robbed. The two consider themselves lucky to have gotten out alive, but then Poitier's character finds out he's got a winning lottery ticket worth $50,000(don't laugh..back in '74, that was a LOT of money) and the two pals start a frantic search to find the robbers and locate the winning ticket (it's in a wallet taken during the robbery)
UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT is filled with quirky and oddball hustlers, grifters, crooked politicians, ghetto gangsters and cheap floozies, all brought to life by some of the most talented black actors of the day. And the movie also has two of the most beautiful actresses ever to be filmed, namely Rosalind Cash and Paula Kelly. Poitier and Cosby encounter a series of very funny adventures as their hunt for the winning lottery ticket forces them into a partnership with Geechy Dan Buford (an outlandishly hilarious Harry Belafonte) and Silky Slim (Calvin Lockhart) in order to get it back. Can the two working stiffs outhustle and outwit the hordes of street-wise slicks standing between them and a fortune? Watch the movie to find out and I think you'll agree that its worth the time to find out the answer.
Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby made two other films in this kind of comedy/caper genre. LET'S DO IT AGAIN is just as good (with a thrilling and side-splitting foot chase near the end and Jimmy J.J. Walker as the heavyweight champion boxer of the world) but A PIECE OF THE ACTION is a little bit more on the serious side with an added dose of social commentary...still, during the blaxplotation era of the '70's, these films were a delightful alternative to the 'kill-whitey-stick-it-to-The-Man-superbrotha-pimpin'-and-shootin-' movies that were also being produced then. I recommend all three of them very highly. Enjoy.
I just saw - again - Uptown and was amazed - again - by the chemistry of the cast and the sheer genius of Bill Cosby. It is definitely dated, style-wise, but it is as contemporary as they come as far as the 'buddy' genre goes. Although Cosby is the focus and star, with Belafonte, Lockhart and Pryor, too, stealing their scenes, one of my favorites is Poitier 'loudtalking' a crime lord. The language is not good, otherwise I'd suggest this is a good movie for older children, but with a little guidance, it would be OK for them, too. Wish there were more movies like this now, but it is a 'classic' in the sense that it overcomes any decade-specific details - the broad comedy and the sharp witty dialog are timeless.
Uptown Saturday Night is timeless. the cast was as strong as the stars of their times, and it would be hard row to hoe, to try and duplicate or re-make. Poitier and Cosby were priceless, and Harry Belafonte and Richard Pryor in their roles elevated the story. i have it on VHS and not a week goes by that i don't cue up at least one or two scenes, even if just to see and hear Cosby tell lie after lie. a true classic. The humor was slick and clean for it's time without the profanity and vulgarity which is the norm of today's genre. I did enjoy both Barbershop films, but it pales in comparison to USN. maybe because i'm from the old school, and I hold the trailblazers with high esteem and respect. Uptown Saturday Night made it's mark, and still does.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The nicest thing you can say about Uptown Saturday Night is that it's
Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte and Richard Pryor hamming
it up in front of the camera and having a grand old time. If you'd just
like to watch these guys have fun, you'd enjoy this movie. If you're
looking for more than that, you'll not find it here.
Steve (Poitier) is a happily married factory worker. Wardell (Cosby and his amazing beard) is Steve's cab driving, fast talking, rambunctious buddy. Wardell talks Steve into going to a high class, after hours social club called Madame Zenobia's. The more uptight Steve is having a great time tagging along with the more adventurous Wardell, right up until the place gets robbed by armed gunmen. But that's more than just a bad ending to a great night. The next day Steve looks in the paper and discovers he and his wife won the lottery but the ticket was in his wallet that the robbers stole. That sends Steve and Wardell off to track down the robbers and recover the wallet, leading them into a series of comical encounters with a number of colorful characters, including con man Sharp Eye Washington (Richard Pryor) and gangster Geechie Dan (Harry Belafonte doing a terrible impression of Marlon Brando from The Godfather). Steve and Wardell end up pursuing the robbers to, of all things, a church social and after a suitcase vs. hammer fight and the fakest looking pair of dives off a bridge you'll ever see in cinema well, I think you can guess the ending.
There's not really a whole lot more to say about Uptown Saturday Night. It's one of those comedies where there really aren't that many jokes. There's some slapstick and other broad humor, but mostly it's about watching the actors vamp and seemingly improv their way through their scenes. It's all fairly energetic and some of it's quite good. I genuinely enjoyed a bit more than the first half of the film, but after that I realized there was nothing more to the movie and it lost some of its zing. The funniest stretch in the film is probably when Steve and Wardell visit their local congressman (Roscoe Lee Browne) to complain about being robbed and it turns out the congressman is a closet Nixon fan passing himself off as another "brother from the 'hood".
There's really nothing that wrong with Uptown Saturday Night, although aside from some mild profanity it seems a lot more like a TV movie from the 70s than a big screen production. But how many other films have Poitier, Cosby, Cosby's immense beard, Belafonte and Pryor in them? If just that is enough for you, go out and rent a copy of this movie. But you can certainly find better movies starring each of those men individually.
This film still holds up years after it was first released. Steve and Wardell (Sidney Portier and Bill Cosby) are two working stiffs that try to get by. Wardell talks Steve into coming with him to a place called Madame Zenobia's (A HOT spot!). During the outing, the place gets robbed. Steve finds out later that he won the lottery. Trouble is, the winning ticket is in the wallet that was stolen. With the help of Wardell, they do just about ANYTHING to get the ticket back, and that is what makes this film fun. Harry Belafonte, Richard Pryor and Calvin Lockhart and just as wonderful. Worth checking out for the laughs, not just for 70's nostalgia.
In reviewing movies in chronological order that featured African-Americans for Black History Month, we're now at 1974 with Uptown Saturday Night. This was the first of three buddy comedies that paired Sidney Poitier with Bill Cosby. This was also Poitier's third directorial assignment after Buck and the Preacher and A Warm December. Instead of the perfect professional characters superstar Sidney had been playing for years, here he's just a working class man named Steve Jackson who's pals with Cosby's Wardell Franklin. As Steve's wife Sarah, Rosalind Cash has some nice, and partially racy, dialogue with Poitier but Ketty Lester seems wasted as Wardell's spouse Irma. With a script by Richard Wesley, Poitier shows some amusing touches though it does take a while for the story, about getting robbed as the two leads spend the night at an illegal gambling joint called Zenobia's before Steve finds out his winning lottery ticket was among the stolen items, to kick into gear. When it does you get treated to a hilarious supporting cast like Flip Wilson as the Reverend, Richard Pryor as Sharp Eye Washington, Roscoe Lee Browne as Congressman Lincoln (dig the way he turns a frame of Nixon to that of Malcoln X and then puts on his African digs when he meets his "constituents" Steve and Wardell), Paula Kelly as Lincoln's wife Leggy Peggy who the boys previously met at Zenobia's, and dancer Harold Nicholas as Little Seymour Pettigrew. That last character has a hilarious encounter with Cosby and Poitier himself cuts loose with some jokes you didn't think would come out of him. Also loved many of the "fights" the Cos instigates. Then there's Calvin Lockhart as Silky Slim and Harry Belafonte as Geechie Dan Beauford. These are rival gangsters that Steve and Wardell seek out to help find the stolen goods. Belafonte looks like he's having the time of his life impersonating Marlon Brando's Godfather role though I found him fitfully amusing like when he threatened to "knock the black off" Poitier and Cosby. Still, Uptown Saturday Night was a mostly enjoyable comedy that I bought on DVD with A Piece of the Action on the disc's other side. Dig Cosby's beard!
In a era where "blaxploitation" movies were made in mass production,
this Sidney Poitier directed movie broke the mold. This was the first
of three movies that teamed Sidney with Bill Cosby, and their chemistry
was magic. Poitier as Steve Jackson and Cosby as Wardell Franklin are
two ordinary hard working guys who get a vacation and they go to the
hottest place in town, "Madam Zenobia's".
While there, the place is held up by a hoodlum by the name of "Sliky Slim" and everyone is robbed of everything on their person. What Jackson later learns is that in his wallet that was stolen, was a sweepstakes ticket worth $50,000. The ensuing comedy is how Jackson & Franklin hit "the streets" looking for the robbers. That's what make the movie so funny. Poitier's & Cosby's characters are as square as a couple of L 7's, and they are in the "underworld" looking for their jackpot ticket.
The supporting cast is just as funny. Calvin Lockhart as Silky Slim, Richard Pryor as Sharp Eye Washington, Paula Kelly as Leggy Peggy, Harold Nicholas as Little Seynour, and of course, Harry Belefonte as Geechie Dan Beurford. (Belefonte actually had his mouth wired for this role like Marlon Brando did in "The Godfather" to make it look authentic like that movie)
This movie is a pretty entertaining watch. A lot of the dialog is "slang" that was popular in the 1970's, which sort of also gives you a historical perspective. (although I still wonder who the hell came up with "Jive Turkey") Worth adding to your DVD collection.
Uninhibited comedy about the efforts of two husbands (Perfectly matched Cosby and Poitier) who try to recover stolen money and a winning lottery ticket before their wives discover that the items are missing. There is great support from Pryor, Wilson, Cash and most notably Belafonte, in a great "Godfather" parody role. For Poitier, who also directed, this was the first of many successful collaborations with Cosby.
My favorite character in "Uptown Saturday Night," is Geechie Dan
Beauford, played by Harry Belafonte. He looks like Marlon Brando from
the 1972 film, "The Godfather." Beauford is an intentional spoof of Don
Corleone, with his cotton-stuffed cheeks. And he's so funny because
he's anything but a strong character.
This is one of the early films that Sidney Poitier directed. It is disconnected in places. The script has holes in it and the story is disjointed at times. But, the film brings together a host of talented black performers. Poitier and Bill Cosby are the leads and have some funny encounters throughout as Steve Jackson and Wardell Franklin. The supporting cast all add to the fun and humor with their antics. Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor, Cal Lockhart and Roscoe Lee Browne have good roles. Paula Kelly as Leggy Peggy is funny.
This film isn't on the level of comedy that Cosby and company can deliver. But, for light entertainment in a film that brings together several top African-American entertainers, "Uptown Saturday Night" is a good watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With this directorial effort veteran actor Sidney Poitier was able to show a different side to his talent, as he's teamed with the equally legendary entertainer Bill Cosby as a pair of average working Joes who make the fateful decision to have a good time in an exclusive night club. While they're gambling downstairs, hoods barge in and rob everybody present; Poitier is relieved of his wallet, which contains a lottery ticket later revealed to be a winning one. So good buddies Steve (Poitier) and Wardell (Cosby) hit the streets determined to find somebody who can point them in the right direction, including a congressman (Roscoe Lee Browne) who's nothing but a big phony, a weaselly private detective (Richard Pryor), and a pair of feuding crime lords, Geechie Dan (Harry Belafonte, doing a hysterical parody of Marlon Brando in "The Godfather") and Silky Slim (Calvin Lockhart). What is truly irresistible is seeing Poitier show off some comedic chops, playing a guy completely out of his element. In his big standout scene, he trash talks a diminutive gangster named Little Seymour (dancer Harold Nicholas). As one can see, "Uptown Saturday Night" is an impressive assemblage of talent; also making appearances are Flip Wilson as the reverend, Rosalind Cash as Steves' loving wife, Ketty Lester as Wardells' significant other, Paula Kelly as exuberant Leggy Peggy, and Lee Chamberlin as club proprietress Madame Zenobia. Poitier and company mine every scene for as many laughs as possible; what's especially funny is seeing Belafonte in drag towards the end. (The movie does go on a little long, but the manic energy of the finale makes it all worthwhile.) This group of actors is a joy to watch, but Cosby most of all is in truly fine form. Providing effective accompaniment are Tom Scotts' perfectly funky music score and an upbeat theme song. Inevitably, there are elements, like the fashions, that date the movie, but they do have a definite fascination going for them. Overall, this is likable stuff that never gets too unpleasant. Followed by two subsequent Poitier / Cosby teamings, "Let's Do It Again" and "A Piece of the Action". Seven out of 10.
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