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Black Caesar (1973)

Raised in Harlem, Tommy Gibbs becomes a successful mob boss but he clashes with the rival Mafia and his old enemy, dirty cop McKinney.


Larry Cohen


Larry Cohen




Cast overview, first billed only:
Fred Williamson ... Tommy Gibbs
Gloria Hendry ... Helen
Art Lund ... McKinney
D'Urville Martin ... Reverend Rufus
Julius Harris ... Mr. Gibbs (as Julius W. Harris)
Minnie Gentry Minnie Gentry ... Momma Gibbs
Philip Roye Philip Roye ... Joe Washington
William Wellman Jr. ... Alfred Coleman
James Dixon ... 'Irish' Bryant
Val Avery ... Cardoza
Patrick McAllister Patrick McAllister ... Grossfield
Don Pedro Colley ... Crawdaddy
Myrna Hansen Myrna Hansen ... Virginia Coleman
Omer Jeffrey ... Tommy (as a Boy)
Michael Jeffrey Michael Jeffrey ... Joe (as a Boy)


Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy, his leg is broken by a bad cop on the take, during a payoff gone bad. Nursing his vengeance, he rises to power in New York City's Harlem. Angry at the racist society around him, both criminal and straight, he sees the acquisition of power as the solution to his rage. He performs a free-lance hit on a Mob contract to attract the attention of the head of a Mafia family. Reluctantly accepted into 'The Family,' he grows increasingly autonomous and aggressive, eventually starting a gang war. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Hail Caesar, Godfather of Harlem...The Cat with the .45-Caliber Claws!


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Gloria Hendry and Julius Harris starred together in Live and Let Die (1973). See more »


Shadow of the camera on the blind guy as Tommy is staggering up the street after being shot. See more »


Cardoza: Hey, you know, you knock me out. Every time you talk Sicilian, it's like a - dubbed-in movie.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The European version included an additional scene before the skyline fade/end credits where, after Tommy Gibbs is seen wandering in a neighborhood slum, a street gang beats him up, rob him, and leave him for dead, making the audience think that Tommy perished during the altercation. In the late 1990s, the European cut mistakenly made its way on home video, due to a mix-up on MGM's part, the current rights holder of the film. The MGM DVD and Blu-ray by Olive Films feature the same alternate cut. See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Caligula III (2017) See more »


Down and Out in New York City
Written by Bodie Chandler & Barry De Vorzon
Performed by James Brown
See more »

User Reviews

Black Exploitation Classics
3 February 2005 | by Captain_CouthSee all my reviews

Black Caesar (1973) is a star vehicle for former pro football star Fred Willamson. He portrays the aforementioned title character. A no nonsense street thug who rises to the top of his profession and he'll do what ever he can to keep his position of power. Neither his wife, his shady preacher brother nor his partners in crime can keep him from being the king pin of New York. Will he do what he has to do to stay in power or will he become just another flash in the pan?

The writing and direction from Larry Cohen works and the music by James Brown is perfect for this film. Fred Williamson plays his role well, after this film he continued to star in similar roles (but not as dark). He also learned film making from Larry Cohen as well. The two were such a perfect team that they just had to make a sequel, Hell Up In Harlem. But there's one thing missing from the second part. No James Brown. I guess he didn't want to work for free. A shame really because he wrote a whole soundtrack for the moving, including "The Big Payback".

Recommended for fans of this genre, others need not apply.

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English | Italian

Release Date:

7 February 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Caesar See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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