7.3/10
7,636
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

Of the movie's two-hour thirty-five-minute running time, 49 minutes feature music. The soundtrack album includes 13 minutes of music unheard in the movie. That implies that Randy Newman wrote over an hour's worth of music for the movie, only to have it cut down. One song, "Change Your Way", was supposed to be sung by Scatman Crothers for the opening credits, but the scene was never shot. The song can be heard on the soundtrack album, sung by Newman. The "Denouement" cue clocks on the soundtrack at five minutes and 43 seconds. Only one minute and 43 seconds ended up in the final cut. 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.: I read music so good, white folks think I'm fakin' it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Le bourreau des coeurs (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Fantastic in every way
28 April 2005 | by IdocamstufSee all my reviews

This a truly terrific period piece directed by Milos Forman(Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus) and starring terrific cast. The film takes place in the very early 1900's and follows the lives of at least four different people/families. As the movie gets going, it begins to focus mostly on an African American man and his struggle to be heard in society after he is mistreated by a group of firemen. Everything that follows is equally powerful and fascinating as the man tries to find justice in the turn of the century America. This fine film is richly textured with turn of the century atmosphere, music and actual newsreels from the period which all contribute to this fascinating story. Also nice to see James Cagney one more time. This is a film that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in what life was like at the turn of century. A fantastic film. ***3/4 out of ****.


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