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.
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Hail Caesar, Godfather of Harlem...The Cat with the .45-Caliber Claws!
Did You Know?
When filming in Harlem, Larry Cohen was accosted by local gangsters who threatened to disrupt the shoot unless they were paid off. Instead, Cohen offered them small roles in the film. They helped so enthusiastically that they attended the premiere to sign autographs. See more
The mob boss' glass of red wine turns into a glass of water, and also swaps hands. See more
[at Mama's funeral
I gave her everything she wanted, Rufus, but she still wasn't ever happy.
You know, I almost feel like I could pray for her.
In the original theatrical version, when a wounded Tommy Gibbs is seen wandering in the slums at the film's conclusion, the film fades to the New York skyline with the caption AUGUST 22, 1972 appearing and then the end credits. However, on European prints and the version issued by MGM on VHS and DVD, they included a scene where a street gang robs, beats, and leaves Tommy for dead and then the usual skyline fade and credits. According to Larry Cohen on the DVD commentary, he was surprised MGM used the European film negative for the DVD release. Therefore, the current MGM version is labeled as an "accidental" director's cut. It also lacks continuity purposes for the subsequent sequel, HELL UP IN HARLEM when Tommy is mysteriously brought back to life when the film was released overseas. See more
Featured in Baadasssss Cinema
Blind Man Can See It
Written by James Brown
and Fred Wesley
Performed by James Brown See more