7.3/10
7,641
55 user 38 critic

Ragtime (1981)

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.

Director:

Milos Forman

Writers:

E.L. Doctorow (based on the novel by), Michael Weller (screenplay)

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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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
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Storyline

The story runs in the 1910's New York. Coalhouse Walker Jr. is a black piano player. He has won fame and fortune playing with a jazz band. Some white men do not like this situation, and one day they assault him and spoil his brand new car. Walker tries by all means to get justice, without an answer... Written by Michel Rudoy <mdrc@hp9000a1.uam.mx>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The passion, the violence, the birth of America's Gilded Age. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bir Zamanlar See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$151,351, 22 November 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$21,015,710
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Milos Forman hired Donald O'Connor at the request of James Cagney. O'Connor had been having personal and professional problems, and Cagney wanted to help him. See more »

Goofs

When Mandy Patinkin's character chases his wife's lover outside, the naked lover pulls up his pants. A tan line from bikini briefs is visible. Bikini briefs weren't worn in that era. See more »

Quotes

Sarah: [about Coalhouse] He say one thing, and then he say another thing. And he make it all sound so good. It ain't nuthin' but talk, Ma'am. It ain't nuthin' but talk!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Na plovárne: Na plovárne s Miroslavem Ondríckem (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

ONE MORE HOUR
(1981)
Words & Music by Randy Newman
Sung by Jennifer Warnes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Bit Of a Mess.
11 October 2013 | by aklcraigcSee all my reviews

Ragtime is a movie that has obvious aspirations to the epic, but never quite makes it. Multiple plot lines go nowhere, only to be neatly resurrected at some random time in the future, just to remind us that everything is 'linked'. Characters go off on random tangents for no apparent reason, things just happen, you get the idea. The central subplot is actually reasonably compelling, but even then it suffers from being slightly haphazard, with all but the very central characters basically behaving in a completely random manner. All this being said, Ragtime is not a bad movie per se, it's sumptuously shot and the acting is mostly pretty good, once the main subplot gets moving, it's pretty engaging.

Ragtime is based on the book of the same name, I didn't know this when I was watching the movie, but it's pretty obvious that the script has suffered from attempting to compress the book, even then, the movie still weighs in at a hefty two and a half hours, one can't help feeling that they should have just concentrated on developing the main story properly, instead of trying to throw in the kitchen sink.

In conclusion: Well done, a little bit of a mess, probably worth a go if you're looking for a period drama.


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