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Ragtime (1981)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  8 January 1982 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 6,223 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 51 user | 28 critic | 8 from

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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Title: Ragtime (1981)

Ragtime (1981) on IMDb 7.3/10

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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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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

Did You Know?


James Cagney was wheelchair-bound at the time of shooting. Most scenes show him sitting; a stand-in was used for his remaining scenes showing him on his feet (and were shot from the back to obscure the stand-in's face). See more »


Evelyn's hair in her nude scene shifts over her shoulder momentarily. See more »


Booker T. Washington: [to Walker in the library] What you have done here has set our race back a distance I can't measure.
See more »


Referenced in Downton Abbey: Episode #4.6 (2013) See more »


Words & Music by Randy Newman
Sung by Jennifer Warnes
See more »

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User Reviews

A Wonderful Panel of Racism, Intolerance, Violence, Greed and Hypocrisy, Showing the Formation of the American Society
22 January 2004 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

In the beginning of the Twentieth Century, many dramas cross in a wonderful panel, showing the formation of the American society. Evelyn Nesbit Thaw (Elizabeth McGovern) is the wife of a millionaire, and pivot of a crime committed by her jealous husband. Her mother-in-law is a hypocrite old lady, who convinces Evelyn to lie in court for money, to avoid her son to go to the electric chair. Evelyn commits perjury, but the mother-in-law does not pay her the promised amount. Mary Steenburgen is a correct woman, having a very moralist husband. Her brother (Brad Dourif) is honest and idealist. The family hires Sarah, a black and single mother, with her baby. The father is the pianist Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Howard E. Rollins Jr.), who progresses in his career and comes back to Sarah, proposing her to get married with him. An incident with a group of racists makes him fighting for justice in a racist society. Rheinlander Waldo (James Cagney) is the chief of police, who is involved in the incident. This movie is another wonderful film of Milos Forman. Amazing the quantity of marvelous movies made by this fantastic director. The reconstitution of the period is magnificent. The cast is stunning. Elizabeth McGovern looks like a doll wearing those costumes. Her nude scene is also great. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): `Na Época do Ragtime' (`In the Age of the Ragtime')

21 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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