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Ragtime (1981) More at IMDbPro »

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Ragtime -- This vivid, high-energy human tableau interweaves the lives and passions of a middle class, small town family against the scandal and events of a transitional America in 1906.


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E.L. Doctorow (based on the novel by)
Michael Weller (screenplay)
View company contact information for Ragtime on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
8 January 1982 (USA) See more »
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was Ragtime See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Ragtime Era Tragedy See more (50 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

James Cagney ... New York Police Commissioner Rhinelander Waldo

Brad Dourif ... Younger Brother

Moses Gunn ... Booker T. Washington

Elizabeth McGovern ... Evelyn Nesbit

Kenneth McMillan ... Willie Conklin

Pat O'Brien ... Delphin

Donald O'Connor ... Evelyn's Dance Instructor

James Olson ... Father

Mandy Patinkin ... Tateh

Howard E. Rollins Jr. ... Coalhouse Walker Jr.

Mary Steenburgen ... Mother

Debbie Allen ... Sarah

Jeffrey DeMunn ... Houdini (as Jeff Demunn)

Robert Joy ... Henry Thaw

Norman Mailer ... Stanford White
Bruce Boa ... Jerome
Hoolihand Burke ... Brigit
Norman Chancer ... Gent No. 1 - Agent
Edwin Cooper ... Grandfather

Jeff Daniels ... P.C. O'Donnell

Fran Drescher ... Mameh

Frankie Faison ... Gang Member No. 1
Hal Galili ... Police Captain No. 1
Alan Gifford ... Judge

Richard Griffiths ... Delmas' Assistant No. 1

Samuel L. Jackson ... Gang Member No. 2

Michael Jeter ... Special Reporter
Calvin Levels ... Gang Member No. 3

Bessie Love ... Old Lady - T.O.C.
Christopher Malcolm ... Police Captain No. 2
Herman Meckler ... Vernon Elliott
Billy J. Mitchell ... Delmas' Assistant No. 2
Jenny Nichols ... Little Girl
Max Nichols ... Little Boy

Zack Norman ... Gent No. 2 - Manager
Eloise Taylor ... Mrs. Thaw (as Eloise O'Brien)
Don Plumley ... Inspector McNeil

Ted Ross ... Black Lawyer
Dorsey Wright ... Gang Member No. 4
Robert Arden ... Foreman of the Jury
Robert Boyd ... Teddy Roosevelt
Thomas A. Carlin ... Vice President Fairbanks
John Clarkson ... Plainclothes Detective No. 1
Brian F. Dean ... Fireman No. 1
Harry Ditson ... County Clerk
Robert Dorning ... Gent with Stanford White
Geoffrey Greenhill ... Police Guard - T.O.C.
Ray Hassett ... Policeman No. 12
Robert Hitt ... Plainclothes Detective No. 2
Rodney James ... Sleek Male Dancer

George Harris ... Band Leader - Clef Club
George J. Manos ... Novelty Shop Storeman
Val Pringle ... Clef Club Manager
Ron Weyand ... Doctor Muller
Sonny Abagnale ... Evelyn's Driver
John Alderson ... Waldo's Aide No. 1

Nesbitt Blaisdell ... Policeman No. 5
Chaim Blatter ... Rabbi
Donald Bisset ... J.P. Morgan

Josh Clark ... Fireman No. 3
Robert Coffin ... Desk Clerk
Patrick Connor ... Waldo's Aide No. 3
Joel Cutrara ... Policeman No. 11
Jake Dengel ... Fireman No. 2

Barry Dennen ... Stage Manager
Natalia Dobrer ... Woman No. 1
Daniel Foley ... Stock Reporter
Gretchen Franklin ... Elderly Woman
Pat Gorman ... Thug No. 2
Guy Gregory ... Black Butler No. 2
Dave Griffiths ... Thug No. 1
Jeff Harding ... Policeman No. 13
Robert Henderson ... Elderly Man

Colette Hiller ... Lawyer's Female Companion No. 1
Patrick M. Hughes ... Policeman No. 7
Elaine Ives-Cameron ... Lawyer's Female Companion No. 2

Andreas Katsulas ... Policeman #3
Douglas Lambert ... Police Sergeant
Pavel Landovský ... Solomon Peretz (as Pavel Landovsky)
Norris Mailer ... Lady with Stanford White
Derek Martin ... Waldo's Aide No. 2
Al Matthews ... Maitre D'
Stuart Milligan ... Marksman
Richard Oldfield ... Stock Reporter
Nelly Polissky ... Woman in Window
Mike Potter ... Thug No. 4
Anthony Powell ... Policeman No, 9

Ethan Phillips ... Guard at Family House

Joe Praml ... Policeman No. 8

John Ratzenberger ... Policeman
Bill Reimbold ... Gent No. 3 - Lawyer
Bob Sherman ... Policeman No. 10
Tony Sibbald ... Stock Reporter
Stan Simmons ... Thug No. 3
John Sterland ... Library Guard
Jan Tríska ... Special Reporter
Burnell Tucker ... Reporter
Britt Walker ... Black Butler No. 1
Peter Whitman ... Stock Reporter
Edward Wiley ... Conductor
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

John Carrafa ... Dancer (uncredited)
Harry Fielder ... Cop (uncredited)

Jim Fitzpatrick ... Bail Clerk (uncredited)

Robert Hallak ... Phillip (uncredited)

Derek Lyons ... Assassin's Best Friend (uncredited)

Frank Patton ... Arresting Police Officer (uncredited)

Ilana Rapp ... Sister (uncredited)
Ellen Stretton ... Bit Part (uncredited)
Judi Trott ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)

Directed by
Milos Forman 
Writing credits
E.L. Doctorow (based on the novel by)

Michael Weller (screenplay by)

Heinrich von Kleist  story "Michael Kohlhaas" (uncredited)

Produced by
Dino De Laurentiis .... producer
Michael Hausman .... executive producer
Fred Sidewater .... associate producer (as Fredric M. Sidewater)
Bernard Williams .... executive producer
Original Music by
Randy Newman (music by)
Cinematography by
Miroslav Ondrícek (director of photography)
Production Design by
John Graysmark 
Art Direction by
John Dapper 
Costume Design by
Anna Hill Johnstone 
Makeup Department
Frank Bianco .... hairdresser: USA
Joe Cuervo .... makeup artist: USA
Paul Engelen .... makeup artist: UK
Peter Frampton .... makeup artist: UK
Bob Grimaldi .... hairdresser: USA (as Robert Grimaldi)
Stephanie Hall .... hairdresser: UK
Max Henriquez .... makeup artist: USA
Colin Jamison .... hairdresser: UK
Leonard .... hair (as Leonard of London)
Production Management
Malcolm J. Christopher .... production manager: UK (as Malcolm Christopher)
Patricia Churchill .... production manager: USA (as Pat Churchill)
Richard Brick .... assistant unit production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Andy Armstrong .... second assistant director: UK
Michael Hausman .... first assistant director
Michael Stevenson .... second assistant director: UK
Joel Tuber .... second assistant director: USA
Ken Tuohy .... second assistant director: UK (as Ken Touhy)
Art Department
May Callas .... assistant art director: USA
Joseph M. Caracciolo Jr. .... property master (as Joe Caracciolo Jr.)
Ted Clements .... assistant art director: UK
George DeTitta Jr. .... set decorator: USA (as George De Titta Jr.)
George DeTitta Sr. .... set decorator: USA (as George De Titta Sr.)
Edward Garzero .... scenic artist: USA
Bert Hearn .... property master: UK
Peter Howitt .... set decorator: UK
John Lanzer .... property buyer: UK
Ted Michell .... scenic artist: UK
Carlos Quiles .... construction manager: USA (as Carlos Quiles Sr.)
Tony Reading .... art director: UK (as Anthony Reading)
Vic Simpson .... construction manager: UK
Steve Spence .... assistant art director: UK
Patrizia von Brandenstein .... art director: USA (as Patrizia Von Brandenstein)
Joe Williams Sr. .... head construction grip: USA
Andy Aitken .... plasterer (uncredited)
Michael Boone .... draughtsman (uncredited)
John Chisholm .... property master (uncredited)
Mick Chubbock .... plasterer (uncredited)
John Dapper .... assistant art director: USA (uncredited)
Gerald DeTitta .... set dresser (uncredited)
Patricia Johnson .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Dennis Murray .... plasterer (uncredited)
Richard Shelton .... painter (uncredited)
Sound Department
Terry Busby .... assistant sound editor
Rowland Fowles .... boom operator: UK
Nigel Galt .... assistant sound editor
Gerry Humphreys .... dubbing mixer
Archie Ludski .... sound editor
Dennis Maitland II .... boom operator: USA
Christopher Newman .... sound mixer (as Chris Newman)
Ken Weston .... boom operator: UK
Les Wiggins .... sound editor
Donald C. Rogers .... technical director of sound (uncredited)
Greg P. Russell .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Edward Drohan .... special effects supervisor: USA (as Ed Drohan)
George Gibbs .... special effects supervisor: UK
Visual Effects by
Charles Staffell .... process photography (as Charles D. Staffell)
Joe Cirillo .... stunt fireman
Nicholas J. Giangiulio .... stunt fireman (as Nick Giangiulio)
Victor Magnotta .... stunt co-ordinator (as Vic Magnotta)
Lightning Bear .... stunts (uncredited)
Lisa Cain .... stunt performer (uncredited)
Frank Ferrara .... stunt fireman (uncredited)
Scott Interrante .... stunt double: Houdini (uncredited)
Steve James .... stunts (uncredited)
Harvey Parry .... stunts (uncredited)
James Randi .... stunt coordinator: Houdini (uncredited)
Konrad Sheehan .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Tony Cridlin .... camera grip: UK
Vinnie Gerardo .... camera assistant: USA
Maurice Gillett .... gaffer electrician: UK (as Maurice Gillette)
Ronald M. Lautore .... second camera operator: USA
Peter MacDonald .... second camera operator: UK
Mary Ellen Mark .... special photographer
Douglas Milsome .... camera assistant: UK
Muky .... still cameraman (as Muky Muncasi)
Bob Penn .... still cameraman
Tom Priestley Jr. .... camera operator (as Thomas A. Priestley Jr.)
Richard Quinlan .... gaffer electrician: USA
Ed Quinn .... key grip
Alan Barry .... best boy (uncredited)
Gary Cross .... electrician (uncredited)
Paul Kenward .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Billy Kerwick .... grip (uncredited)
Micky Wilson .... electrician (uncredited)
Jimmy Worley .... electrician (uncredited)
Casting Department
Maggie Cartier .... casting: UK
Mary Goldberg .... casting: USA
Pat Golden .... casting associate: USA (as Patricia Golden)
David Rubin .... casting assistant (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Ron Beck .... wardrobe supervisor: UK
John Boyt .... assistant costume designer: USA
Bill Christians .... wardrobe assistant: USA
Peggy Farrell .... assistant costume designer: USA
Ian Hickinbotham .... wardrobe assistant: UK (as Ian Hickinbottom)
Marilyn Putnam .... wardrobe supervisor: USA
Janet Tebrooke .... wardrobe assistant: UK
Guy Tanno .... wardrober (uncredited)
Sue Wain .... wardrobe assistant (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Anne V. Coates .... film editor: UK
Nena Danevic .... associate editor: USA
Roberta Friedman .... post-production coordinator: USA
Leslie Gaulin .... assistant editor: USA
Antony Gibbs .... film editor: UK
Peter Honess .... assistant editor: UK
Chris Kelly .... assistant editor: UK
Patrick Moore .... assistant editor: UK
Patrick Mullins .... assistant editor: USA
Stanley Warnow .... film editor: USA
Debra Bard .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Judith Blume .... apprentice editor (uncredited)
Lisa Zeno Churgin .... first assistant editor (uncredited)
John Murray .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Tom Aberg .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Stanley Cowell .... music coach: to Mr. Rollins
Jack Hayes .... orchestrator
Gilbert Marouani .... music consultant
John Strauss .... music editor
Tommy Tedesco .... musician: guitar (uncredited)
Transportation Department
James Fanning .... transport captain: USA (as James J. Fanning)
Gerald Makein .... transport captain: UK
Patrick Hogan .... driver (uncredited)
Other crew
Gordon Arnell .... unit publicist
Len Barnard .... supervising accountant
Mary Breen-Farrelly .... production accountant
Richard Brick .... location manager: USA
June Broom .... publicity assistant
Carol Cuddy .... location co-ordinator: USA
Dino De Laurentiis .... presenter
Martha De Laurentiis .... assistant accountant: NY (as Martha Schumacher)
Terry Gilbert .... assistant choreographer
Christopher Goode .... location co-ordinator: USA
Shawn Hausman .... location co-ordinator: USA
Miroslav Hájek .... consultant: to Mr. Forman
Adeline Leonard Seakwood .... production office coordinator: USA
Reggie Life .... location co-ordinator: USA (as Regge Life)
Lee R. Mayes .... location co-ordinator: USA (as Lee Mayes)
Marilyse Morgan .... production secretary: UK
Charles Musser .... researcher
Terry Needham .... location manager: UK
Amy Ness .... assistant: to Mr. Forman
Golda Offenheim .... production co-ordinator
Martha Pinson .... script supervisor
Twyla Tharp .... choreographer
David Ticotin .... location co-ordinator: USA
Marge Zimmerman .... assistant: to Mr. Cagney
Randall Balsmeyer .... title designer (uncredited)
Robin Demetriou .... cast and crew chef (uncredited)
Hector Freeman .... production staff (uncredited)
Daniel J. Heffner .... researcher (uncredited)
Ernie Karpeles .... animal wrangler (uncredited)
Ooty Moorehead .... craft service (uncredited)
Art Smith Jr. .... location assistant (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Love and Glory" - Philippines (English title)
See more »
155 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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 »
Factual errors: Charles W. Fairbanks was not the Vice President of the United States when he was running with Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. He was a Senator from Indiana and was chosen as Roosevelt's running mate that year. Roosevelt was Vice President when he succeeded to the presidency upon William McKinley's assassination and he had no Vice President for his first term of office.See more »
P.C. O'Donnell:Nobody's intimidating me, Mister. You just don't know what you're getting yourself into, and I'm trying to keep your nose clean. Now, would you be a good boy and just get along.?
Coalhouse Walker Jr.:I want my car cleaned!
P.C. O'Donnell:Clean it then, damn you! Clean it and go!
Coalhouse Walker Jr.:I want the man who did it to clean it!
P.C. O'Donnell:All right, all right, let me pit it this way. I can arrest you for blocking a public service exit, for creating a public nuisance, and about ten other things I ain't gonna mention. Now, am I making myself clear?
Coalhouse Walker Jr.:Yes.
P.C. O'Donnell:Good.
Coalhouse Walker Jr.:Officer, I still want my car cleaned.
P.C. O'Donnell:Oh, for Christ's sake! Ain't you got any sense in your head? I'm trying to help you! You leave me no choice.
Coalhouse Walker Jr.:I'm sorry.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Le bourreau des coeurs (1983)See more »


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23 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
Ragtime Era Tragedy, 23 October 2006
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

Back in the day when Hollywood was grinding out B westerns it wasn't unusual at all to see famous folks of the west in stories that had absolutely nothing to do with their own lives or to see many famous people interacting when they never even met in real life.

Ragtime revives some of that dubious tradition in filming E.L. Doctorow's novel about the Teddy Roosevelt years of the first decade of the last century. Teddy figures into this briefly as does his Vice President Charles Fairbanks. Booker T. Washington is here too, as are the principals of the Stanford White murder, and New York City Police Commissioner Rhinelander Waldo.

It's quite a blend because Roosevelt and Fairbanks ran for re-election in 1904 as Fairbanks is shown delivering a campaign speech. He wasn't even Vice President then, just a Senator from Indiana. Fairbanks was running for Vice President because Roosevelt had no Vice President in his first term. He succeeded to the presidency when Willima McKinley was assassinated.

The Stanford White murder took place in 1906 and was then called the crime of the century. Many such murders right up to O.J. Simpson were given that dubious distinction. And Rhinelander Waldo was not NYPD Police Commissioner until 1910 and he was much younger than James Cagney.

Still and all E.L. Doctorow's book is made into a fine film which got a whole bunch of Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director for Milos Forman and Supporting player nominations for Howard Rollins, Jr. and Elizabeth McGovern.

The main story is about Coalhouse Walker, Jr. a black ragtime pianist and his Sarah. She has his baby and they'd like to get married. But a whole lot of things, some of them peripherally connected to the true events and people previously mentioned that lead him and a gang to take possession of the Morgan Library and threaten to blow it up.

Howard Rollins was a real tragedy. This was a great start to a short, but brilliant career that included his long running role as Virgil Tibbs in the TV series In the Heat of the Night and the film A Soldier's Story. He died way too young from AIDS contracted from a lot of intravenous drug use.

Elizabeth McGovern is the famous Evelyn Nisbet, the girl on the red velvet swing which was the title of another film that dealt with the Stanford White murder. McGovern's performance is probably closer to the real Evelyn than Joan Collins was in that earlier film. She's basically a goldigger who juggled two men, her husband Harry K. Thaw and her upscale lover, society architect Stanford White. Her circus act led to White's death, Thaw's commitment to an insane asylum and a vaudeville career for her.

Ragtime was eagerly awaited because of the anticipated return of James Cagney to the screen after being off for 19 years. Cagney is clearly aged, but he gets through the role because unlike that television film Terrible Joe Moran, he's not the center of the film, though he's first billed. Note that he's sitting down during most of his performance and when he has to stand the camera is a discreet distance. It's nothing like the bouncing Cagney of old, but light years better than Terrible Joe Moran.

This was also the final joint appearance as it turned for the team that invented the buddy film, James Cagney and Pat O'Brien even though they have no scenes together. O'Brien is Harry K. Thaw's attorney and Mrs. O'Brien plays Thaw's mother under her maiden name of Eloise Taylor. She was an actress before she married Pat, but gave up her career to raise their four children.

Author Norman Mailer plays Stanford White, fulltime architect and hedonist and Robert Joy plays the demented millionaire Harry K. Thaw and both fit the parts perfectly. Maybe one day we will have a definitive film version just concentrating on the murder and it's aftermath for the three principals.

Milos Forman gave us a remarkable evocation of an exciting time in American history. It seemed that America had limitless possibilities then. I doubt they'll be saying that about the first decade of this century.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (50 total) »

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