my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Cotton Comes to Harlem
Director:   Ossie Davis
Year:   1970
Genre:   Soul Cinema
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   02.18.07

Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
02.18.07Internet So, I don't want it to be an official thing or whatever because I may get busy or something and won't be able to keep to it, but I'm in the mood to celebrate Black History/Heritage month this week with a full load of blaxploitation movies, aiming for one or two a night for a week. Although I was too tired to give it a proper note, Truck Turner kicked my ass last night and I have a nice selection queued up for the near future (and if netflix cooperates, maybe even a choice triple feature to end the festivities with). So we'll see! but in the meantime there's Cotton Comes to Harlem.

Directed by Ossie Davis and pre-dating... a lot of the genre, this movie is about a pair of cops (named Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones) who work Harlem and have their eye on a swindling reverend taking money from black folk. At a rally, the reverend is fired upon and a chase ensues. As it turns out, the rev's stolen money is stashed away in this bale of cotton that fell out of the shooters' truck so the movie's about everyone trying to track it down and figure out who all's trying to kill who.

Redd Foxx has a small role and I also noticed Cleavon Little deep in the credits but didn't spot him in the film. Seeing his name did make me think "this radio station is named Kowalski" though.

I'm generally a pretty big fan of this genre. I find even the slow ones easier to sit through than your average biker or kung-fu movie and think the good ones are downright awesome. Plus I respect the identity of them, love the locations and flavor of the times that always manages to get captured along with the social messages and evil honky cops and whatnot, and also like that they're mostly cop or crime stories (which I gravitate towards anyway). So it all adds up to me liking this stuff... except maybe when it's Space is the Place and nothing makes any kind of sense whatsoever... but anyway.

So this movie is kind of surprisingly devoid of over-the-top white devils. Sure there's a few racial slurs here and there and one white cop gets played a fool over and over again, but mostly it's about the black community and how when a black steals from blacks it's even worse than when whites steal (because we've been doing it so long, it's expected). It's about two good cops who don't take any shit but have a deep connection to their community and have its best interest at heart. I found that pretty cool... I was laughing less at the blatant button-pushing that I see in a lot of these movies ("oh man, that guy just said "black bitch" he's gonna get his ass kicked") and more just enjoying the plot and character.

I'm sure there's some messagey-type stuff in here... I mean, a bale of cotton floating around Harlem can't just be a coincidence, but I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle hand that lays these things out. Good movie.
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