A young black pianist becomes embroiled in the lives of an upper-class white family set among the racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events in early 1900s New York City.

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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Willie Conklin
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Delphin
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Houdini (as Jeff Demunn)
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Storyline

The story runs in the 1910's New York. Coalhouse Walker Jr. is a black piano player. He has won fame and fortune playing with a jazz band. Some white men do not like this situation, and one day they assault him and spoil his brand new car. Walker tries by all means to get justice, without an answer... Written by Michel Rudoy <mdrc@hp9000a1.uam.mx>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was Ragtime See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

25 December 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bir Zamanlar  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Jack Nicholson, who was to play Rhinelander Waldo, had to drop out of the film less than a month before filming began, the producers were left without a name star in the cast. It was then that director Milos Forman recruited James Cagney, whom he had met at a private dinner in Connecticut the year before. He offered Cagney any part he wanted including (facetiously) the role of Evelyn Nesbitt. See more »

Goofs

While negotiating with Coalhouse Walker Jr., the earpiece hook on the phone hangs in the off position while Conklin is talking. See more »

Quotes

Sarah: [about Coalhouse] He say one thing, and then he say another thing. And he make it all sound so good. It ain't nuthin' but talk, Ma'am. It ain't nuthin' but talk!
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Connections

Referenced in Le bourreau des coeurs (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

ONE MORE HOUR
(1981)
Words & Music by Randy Newman
Sung by Jennifer Warnes
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User Reviews

A Flawed Beauty Is Nonetheless A Beauty
2 February 2002 | by (San Francisco, CA USA) – See all my reviews

I finished reading Doctorow's novel just before it was announced that production had started on the movie. I remember thinking, "How the hell do you make a movie of a book where the central characters are named 'Mother,' 'Father,' and 'Mother's Younger Brother?'"

Milos Forman showed how: In a word, beautifully.

And "Ragtime" is beautiful, stunning in its recreation of early 1900s New York, utilizing a script which somehow ties together the central events and their effects on its main characters as well as one of the finest, most haunting soundtracks (Randy Newman, who went so far as to compose several original 'ragtime' numbers) in the past twenty years, topped off with a first-rate cast.

James Cagney was the big news, of course, and deservedly so: Emerging from twenty years of retirement, he showed that he'd not only not lost anything but had added to his expertise. Add Mary Steenburgen, Mandy Patinkin, James Olsen, Howard Rollins, Keith McMillan and even Elizabeth McGovern (each of them perfectly cast), to name but a few, and you see where Forman wasn't missing a bet.

"Ragtime" suffers, ultimately, due to lapses in editing -- the most grievous lapse the cutting of a short scene which explains Commissioner Waldo's motivation behind the action he ultimately takes with Coalhouse Walker. Some cuts are always necessarily (especially in a movie as sprawling as this), yet that cut -- and several others -- flaw this beauty of a film.

But not fatally. Not at all. More than twenty years later, "Ragtime" is still gorgeous.


38 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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