7.3/10
8,660
62 user 43 critic

Ragtime (1981)

PG | | Drama | 25 December 1981 (USA)
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)
Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mary Steenburgen was pregnant during filming. Her turn-of-the-century clothes concealed it. See more »

Goofs

One pre-WWI newspaper headline refers to Vice-President Charles Curtis. Curtis was Vice President under Herbert Hoover, who was elected in 1928. See more »

Quotes

Coalhouse Walker Jr.: [praying] Lord, I'd hoped I'd have the courage to know what I should do now. You must see how sick at heart I've been... and how I've performed this thing with little appetite.
[sobbing]
Coalhouse Walker Jr.: I'd hoped... you'd reveal to me along the way why you put such a rage in my heart.
[a brief pause]
Coalhouse Walker Jr.: Tell me what to do now!
[another beat]
Coalhouse Walker Jr.: Please.
[sighs]
Coalhouse Walker Jr.: God, tell me what to do.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

One More Hour
(1981)
Words & Music by Randy Newman
Sung by Jennifer Warnes
See more »

User Reviews

No, NOT the 30's, not the 20's, the 'oughts ...
1 May 2000 | by djexplorerSee all my reviews

1906, to be specific, is when Stanford White was shot -- which of course marks the beginning date bookmark of the movie.

The "declaration of war" -- WW I -- as announced in a Newspaper headline at the end of the film, bookmarks the end of the movie -- and of the era.

Not trivial points, since a good part of the interest of this movie lies it it's serving as a relatively rare window into this period. Which unlike the 1930s or the 1920s which the plot summary and first comment confuse it with, is not a period which is much portrayed in film.

I'd say it's a pretty good, although not great, "costume" film. The first half is much stronger than the second half, both in historical interest and in character development.

Worth seeing though. Perhaps try seeing it right after "Age of Innocence", which is set primarily in the New York of the 1870s (although entirely among the upper upper class, instead of the somewhat broader class look, and city/near country look of Ragtime).


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ragtime See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$151,351, 22 November 1981

Gross USA:

$14,920,781

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$14,920,781
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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