7.3/10
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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)

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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:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was Ragtime 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

O.J. Simpson lobbied hard for the role of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. As presented in the documentary O.J.: Made in America (2016), Simpson saw himself in that role, but Director Milos Forman decided to go with Howard E. Rollins, Jr., a former teacher who got his first break in films with this role. See more »

Goofs

When Sarah is in the back of the crowd at the train station, trying to listen to Vice President Fairbanks, a small 50-star American flag appears to the right of her. In 1904, the U.S. flag had 45 stars. See more »

Quotes

[Coalhouse has just learned that his friends have safely escaped]
Father: [trepidatiously] Well, shouldn't we... uh... tell them... that we're... we're coming?
Coalhouse Walker Jr.: [calmly] Yeah. You go on ahead. Tell 'em I'll be right out.
Father: [hesitates] Well...
Coalhouse Walker Jr.: Just go on. I'll be with you.
Father: [still hesitates] Don't...?
Coalhouse Walker Jr.: [firmly] Go.
Father: [stammering] Don't you think it would be... a better idea if we...?
Coalhouse Walker Jr.: [exploding] GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE! Don't you understand ANYTHING, white man?
Father: [terrified, rushes out of the library]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Life As It Is: Milos Forman on Milos Forman (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Off to Oxford
18 March 2009 | by harryfielderSee all my reviews

RAGTIME…Director Milos Forman… Cast Inc… JAMES CAGNEY…Pat O'Brien…Donald O'Connor… This cast is a blast from the past… We film for a few days at Oxford and for me it doesn't get any better than this. The scenes are interior of a big office and I'm dressed as a US cop. Pat O'Brien came onto the set first and shook hands with many of the Supporting Artists (Including me) ''How are you son, you look good'' he said.. Well that's the best way for me to start the day because now I felt good that this man had taken time to welcome all of us. Pat moved around the room chatting to cast and crew alike and we were all waiting for the main man to arrive on set.. The noise was quite deafening until someone said ''He's here''. You could have heard a pin drop as the main man entered the set. Everyone stood and applauded and waited for James Cagney to take his position on the set before silence resumed. There they were in front of me my two heroes of the black and white days of cinema. I think I've seen every film that James has made (Some of them many times) I feel sorry for the kids of today that never got to see he's early films and think a good film today has to be bombarded with special effects to make it work. Let me list some of films of James Cagney to let the kids of today and tomorrow know what they have missed. The Public Enemy (1931), Scarface (1932), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), White Heat (1949). Then in the 50s Love Me Or Leave Me (With Doris Day), Mr Roberts. (With a young Jack Lemmon). I could watch all these films again and never tire. This was to be James Cagney's last film and I would like to say, thank you Mr Cagney for entertaining me for so many years.


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