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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
James Cagney objected to saying the word "nigger" in reference to Walker, so the less pejorative term "buck" was substituted. See more »
One of the pre-WWI newspaper headlines refers to Vice-President Charles Curtis. Curtis served as Herbert Hoover's VP and was not elected until 1928. See more »
[Coalhouse tries to sue for his car being damaged]
Well, what's your financial situation like?
Coalhouse Walker Jr.:
I have a little laid by. I planned to use it on my wedding, but I guess it'll have to wait.
Hmm. Mr. Walker, let me give you some advice. You spend the money on your wedding. Build yourself a home and a family where you can find some comfort. And just forget that some damn white man caused you offense.
Coalhouse Walker Jr.:
And that's your advice?
That's my advice, and I pray you take it to heart.
Coalhouse Walker Jr.:
Just forget it? Is ...
[...] See more »
I never saw this film until 2005 and after I had become a big James Cagney fan and wanted to see the movies of his I had missed. Thus, I had to check this out, especially since it was his first film he had made in over 20 years.
En route to getting a glimpse at the 80-year-old star, I found out (1) he wasn't on screen until 45 minutes were left in this 155-minute movie; (2) his absence didn't upset me that much because I was absorbed in this interesting story (plus, to be fair, I was told in advance he didn't appear until the last part!), (3) the sets, clothing, etc. of this "period piece" were fantastic to view.
Anyway, in my opinion, the star of the film was a guy who hardly got any billing: James Olson. He is the key figure in this story and very interesting to watch. Actually, just about everyone is interesting which makes for good storytelling. Nonetheless, Olson's fine performance is unfairly overlooked.
Howard Rollins was good as the black "victim" of the profane slob Kenneth McMillian and Elizabeth McGovern certainly kept ones attention although I wasn't quite sure how her character tied into the story.
By the way, to rate this movie "PG" is ludicrous since McGovern is seen in a 3- to-4-minute scene casually talking away with bare breasts for all to see. And - contrary to a popular rumor - nothing of her was cut out of the DVD.
Meanwhile, Cagney showed he hadn't forgotten how to act. It was a pleasure to see him again, just a few years before he would pass away. It's a cliché, but I doubt if anyone was in his class as an actor and a dancer, a tough guy or a comedian. He was the best and went out in style here, too, although he did do one last made-for-TV film a short time after this.
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