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Harlem Nights (1989)

 -  Comedy | Crime | Drama  -  17 November 1989 (USA)
5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 12,310 users   Metascore: 16/100
Reviews: 53 user | 19 critic | 14 from Metacritic.com

"Sugar" Ray is the owner of an illegal casino, who contend with the pressures of vicious gangster and corrupt policemen who want to see him go out of business. In the world of organized ... See full summary »

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Title: Harlem Nights (1989)

Harlem Nights (1989) on IMDb 5.8/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
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Vera
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Annie
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Jack Jenkins
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Dominique La Rue
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Richie Vento
...
Sunshine
...
Tony
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...
Tommy Smalls (as Tommy Ford)
Uncle Ray Murphy ...
Willie (as Uncle Ray)
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Storyline

"Sugar" Ray is the owner of an illegal casino, who contend with the pressures of vicious gangster and corrupt policemen who want to see him go out of business. In the world of organized crime and police corruption in the 1920s, any dastardly trick is fair! Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They're up to something big.

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 November 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los reyes de la noche  »

Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$60,864,870 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Reportedly, actor-comedian Richard Pryor once said of the film's development and pre-production period that "the potential had guys in Hollywood putting money down on new Porsches and vacation homes". See more »

Goofs

After Jack Jenkins leaves Sugar Ray's and Quick's table in the restaurant, they talk about the 3 to 1 odds they will receive on Jenkins for the upcoming fight. When Phil and Bugsy are talking in the sauna, They say the odds for Jenkins' opponent, Kirkpatrick are 3 to 1. They are saying that the odds on both fighters are the same. See more »

Quotes

Quick: How's Sunshine doing on that pick up man?
Bennie Wilson: Oh, he proposed to her four times already, said he would leave his wife & kids and convert from Catholic to Baptist. Now you know that's some mean pussy to make a man change gods.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Arsenio Hall Show: Episode #1.44 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Long Time No See
Written by Arthur Altman & James Cavanaugh
Performed by The Andrews Sisters
See more »

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User Reviews

Trashed by critics with no logic at all
5 November 2001 | by (Montgomery County, PA) – See all my reviews

The most common thing critics said to trash Harlem Nights was that it was too profane to be set in 1938. Well, this statement here was completely without logic. Two points to back myself up:

1. In almost every 1930's/40's/50's gangster movie, the characters

are very profane. Look at any movie directed by Martin Scorcese and starring Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci for evidence of this

2. What do you expect from a movie starring Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Redd Foxx? If you expect these three men to watch their language, you are truly a stranger in the ways of their material

As for the movie's sexist feel, I cannot dispute this. However, I can defend it. I am not a sexist young man despite being only

twenty-one years of age. I feel that women should have the same rights as men. However, I think Eddie Murphy was young and dumb and only felt the way he did because he was not mature enough to understand women. Now he is happily married and expecting his fifth child, so I think he is a little wiser today.

As for one review I read that said every white man was a bigot in this movie. Guys, come on, it's Harlem in 1938!

Despite all of this, the movie is a well-made, well-characterized, entertaining film. It was taken too seriously when it was first released, and I'm glad many people here seem to agree with me.

The plot concerns Sugar Ray (Pryor, who was sadly the only disappointing performer here) and his adopted son Vernest Brown, a.k.a. Quick (Murphy) owners of the hottest nightclub in Harlem. It becomes the target of gangster Bugsy Calhoune (an impressive performance by Michael Learner) and his buddy Sgt. Phil Cantone (A terrific Danny Aiello). They plot with their employees to scam him out of his money by placing a fake bet on a boxing match and leave Harlem.

The movie is not without plot holes and the occasional bad line of dialogue, but other than that, it's funny and entertaining. A particular highlight are Foxx's nearsighted Bennie Wilson and Reese's Vera Walker, who exchange profane banter throughout the film, which is hilarious. A cameo by longtime Murphy friend Arsenio Hall (whom I usually dislike) as a crybaby mobster is also very funny. Don't listen to the critics, this movie is funny as hell!


50 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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