Ragtime (1981)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  8 January 1982 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 6,312 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 51 user | 29 critic | 8 from Metacritic.com

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.



(based on the novel by), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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


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 | Add Synopsis


Good Time ... Bad Time ... Ragtime See more »




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 January 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bir Zamanlar  »

Box Office


SEK 3,022,477 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


A ten-minute sequence on the Lower East Side featuring real-life social activist Emma Goldman was cut from the final print. In the sequence Goldman takes Evelyn Nesbitt back to her apartment, explains her misgivings over the use of restrictive undergarments by women, removes them from Nesbitt and tries to recruit her for her socialist cause. During the scene they are observed by a voyeuristic Younger Brother, who has followed them into the building and has been secretly observing the undressed Nesbitt. See more »


In the scene where Sarah is in the back of the crowd at the train station, trying to listen to Vice President Fairbanks, a small 50-star American flag can be seen to the right of her. The 50-star flag was not official until 4 July 1960. See more »


Younger Brother: What kind of music do you play?
Coalhouse Walker Jr.: Anything they ask me to, and then I play ragtime.
See more »


Referenced in James Cagney: Top of the World (1992) See more »


Words & Music by Randy Newman
Sung by Jennifer Warnes
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User Reviews

Off to Oxford
18 March 2009 | by (London UK) – See all my reviews

RAGTIME…Director Milos Forman… Cast Inc… JAMES CAGNEY…Pat O'Brien…Donald O'Connor… This cast is a blast from the past… We film for a few days at Oxford and for me it doesn't get any better than this. The scenes are interior of a big office and I'm dressed as a US cop. Pat O'Brien came onto the set first and shook hands with many of the Supporting Artists (Including me) ''How are you son, you look good'' he said.. Well that's the best way for me to start the day because now I felt good that this man had taken time to welcome all of us. Pat moved around the room chatting to cast and crew alike and we were all waiting for the main man to arrive on set.. The noise was quite deafening until someone said ''He's here''. You could have heard a pin drop as the main man entered the set. Everyone stood and applauded and waited for James Cagney to take his position on the set before silence resumed. There they were in front of me my two heroes of the black and white days of cinema. I think I've seen every film that James has made (Some of them many times) I feel sorry for the kids of today that never got to see he's early films and think a good film today has to be bombarded with special effects to make it work. Let me list some of films of James Cagney to let the kids of today and tomorrow know what they have missed. The Public Enemy (1931), Scarface (1932), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), White Heat (1949). Then in the 50s Love Me Or Leave Me (With Doris Day), Mr Roberts. (With a young Jack Lemmon). I could watch all these films again and never tire. This was to be James Cagney's last film and I would like to say, thank you Mr Cagney for entertaining me for so many years.

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