The film focuses on the war of two gangs in 1930s Harlem for the control of illegal gaming - one headed by black strategic godfather Bumpy Johnson and another by white ruthless hothead Dutch Schultz. Negotiations proposed by white syndicate boss Lucky Luciano never get under way, blood flows and Johnson gets jailed. When Johnson is paroled, he gets the work of enforcer for mighty Stephanie "The Queen" St. Clair. She is also jailed for racketeering and when she leaves she makes him promise "no violence". Written by
The film's portrayal of Tom Dewey, as a corrupt sleazebag who regularly took bribes from gangsters, was widely criticized by those who knew Thomas E. Dewey. The real Dewey was known to be the most honest and incorruptible member of the establishment, during his stints as District Attorney and then New York Governor. It was this good reputation that got him within a hair's breadth of being elected United States President in 1948. See more »
While attention to detail of historic 1930s United States paper money is present to a point, most of the bills that Luciano looks at near the beginning of the film are from the 1940s as evident by the signatures and designs. See more »
Johnny 'Figures' DiPalmero:
[referring to a board]
The dividing line could conceivably be the 135th Street, running east to west, Lennox Ave running north to south. Mr Schultz would take one territory and Mr Johnson, the other.
I can't accept any proposals that allows Mr Schultz to continue to operate freely in Harlem. As I've said before I have no quarrel with any of you gentlemen. But if Mr Schultz insists on coming uptown, I have no choice but to make my presence felt... Downtown.
Well, you do realize that such a course...
[...] See more »
I Had Forgotten How Good This Movie Actually Is!!!!
I had this movie on homemade VHS for a while and just received the DVD.
Mesmerizing!!! Beautifully Filmed! Hats off to Bill Duke - another very distinguished African-American director!! Once you get past the fact that the movie is FILLED with phenomenal performances from the likes of Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Tim Roth, Vanessa Williams. Queen Latifah, Loretta Devine, Clarence Williams III, and of course, Miss Cicely Tyson you also discover a gem of a movie.
It follows the exploits of a 30s Harlem gangster Bumpy Johnson. Fishburne reminds you of why he is such a charismatic actor. His performance here is one you can watch over and over again. Of course the movie may have been exaggerated but what movie isn't?! It is a very stylized presentation and the obvious attention to detail to create the look and the feel of the period help intensify the viewing experience.
I am quite proud of the production and highly recommend it become part of your movie collection. Notwitstanding that is a worthy project, there are treasures of performances here that warrant attention.
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