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Ragtime (1981)

PG | | Drama | 25 December 1981 (USA)
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)

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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)


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Plot Summary | Plot 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:

25 December 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bir Zamanlar  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$151,351, 22 November 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Milos Forman hired Donald O'Connor at the request of James Cagney. O'Connor had been having personal and professional problems, and Cagney wanted to help him. 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 »


Rheinlander Waldo: [refering to the anarchists in the library] Well, Mr. Elliot, why don't you go in and have a word with them?
Vernon Elliott: I beg your pardon?
Rheinlander Waldo: Just explain the value of the library, see what they want, that sort of thing.
Vernon Elliott: That hardly seems like the appropriate response, Mr. Waldo, and if you're making a joke at my expense, I assure you there's nothing amusing about my responsibilities as the curator of Mr. Morgan's library.
Rheinlander Waldo: Mr. Elliot, as long as those guys are in there, you're not curator of anything!
See more »


Featured in Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream (1998) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Off to Oxford
18 March 2009 | by 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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