IMDb > Black Caesar (1973)
Black Caesar
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Black Caesar (1973) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 75% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Larry Cohen (written by)
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Release Date:
7 February 1973 (USA) See more »
Hail Caesar, Godfather of Harlem...The Cat with the .45-Caliber Claws!
Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy... See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Veni, Vidi, Vici ... Tommy! See more (35 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Fred Williamson ... Tommy Gibbs

Gloria Hendry ... Helen
Art Lund ... McKinney
D'Urville Martin ... Reverend Rufus

Julius Harris ... Mr. Gibbs (as Julius W. Harris)
Minnie Gentry ... Momma Gibbs
Philip Roye ... Joe Washington
William Wellman Jr. ... Alfred Coleman
James Dixon ... Bryant

Val Avery ... Cardoza
Patrick McAllister ... Grossfield

Don Pedro Colley ... Crawdaddy
Myrna Hansen ... Virginia Coleman
Omer Jeffrey ... Tommy as a Boy
Michael Jeffrey ... Joe as a Boy
Allan Bailey ... Motor (as Allen W. Bailey)
Cecil Alonzo ... Sport
Francisco De Gracia ... Cab Driver (as Francisco DeGracia)
Larry Lurin ... Carlos
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Andrew Duggan ... Man at Shoeshine (uncredited)

Directed by
Larry Cohen 
Writing credits
Larry Cohen (written by)

Produced by
Larry Cohen .... producer
James Dixon .... associate producer
Peter Sabiston .... executive producer
Janelle Webb .... co-producer (as Janelle Cohen)
Benjamin Fisz .... producer (uncredited)
Kenneth Rive .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
James Brown 
Cinematography by
Fenton Hamilton (director of photography)
Film Editing by
George Folsey Jr. 
Casting by
Mike Carey 
Michael D. Corey  (as Mike Corey)
Production Design by
Larry Lurin 
Makeup Department
Rick Baker .... makeup designer (uncredited)
Production Management
Allan Bailey .... production manager: New York (as Allen W. Bailey)
Sound Department
Marvin Kerner .... sound effects editor
Alex Vanderkar .... sound
Special Effects by
Rick Baker .... special effects (uncredited)
Nick Dimitri .... stunts (uncredited)
Orwin C. Harvey .... stunts (uncredited)
Larry Holt .... stunts (uncredited)
Bob Minor .... stunts (uncredited)
Paul Stader .... stunt coordinator (uncredited)
James Winburn .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Jim Dunn .... camera operator
Alex Fernbach .... camera operator
Deke Gibson .... still photographer (as 'Deek' Gibson)
Mike Horner .... camera operator (as Don Hart)
Robert Isenberg .... camera operator (as Bob Isenberg)
James Signorelli .... director of photography: Harlem sequence
Stu Spahn .... camera operator
Casting Department
Black Beauty .... casting: New York
Editorial Department
Franco Guerri .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Barry De Vorzon .... music supervisor (as Barry DeVorzon)
Lenny Stack .... composer: song "Big Daddy"
Janelle Webb .... composer: song "Big Daddy" (as Janelle Cohen)
Transportation Department
Francisco De Gracia .... transportation manager (as Francisco DeGracia)
Other crew
Cecil Alonzo .... production coordinator
Franco Guerri .... production assistant
Paul Stader .... technical advisor
Joan Tucker .... script girl
David Sheldon .... production executive (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Godfather of Harlem" - Ireland (English title) (imdb display title), UK
"Чёрный цезарь" - Soviet Union (Russian title)
"Black Caesar - Il Padrino nero" - Italy
"Black Caesar, le parrain de Harlem" - France (imdb display title)
"Black Max" - Germany (DVD title)
"Der Pate von Harlem" - West Germany (TV title)
"El padrino de Harlem" - Spain
"Fekete Caesar" - Hungary (imdb display title)
"Godfather of Harlem (Der Pate von Harlem)" - West Germany (imdb display title)
"Harlemin babasi" - Turkey (Turkish title) (imdb display title)
"Heiße Hölle Harlem" - West Germany
"L'emperador negre" - Spain (Catalan title)
"Mavros gigas" - Greece (reissue title)
"Musta keisari" - Finland
"O Chefão de New York" - Brazil (cable TV title)
"O Chefão de Nova York" - Brazil (imdb display title)
"O mavros nonos" - Greece (transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title)
"Street Kill" - Denmark (video box title)
"T. Gibb - The Harlem Fighter" - West Germany (video title)
See more »
87 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Originally offered to Sammy Davis Jr., who turned it down.See more »
Revealing mistakes: When Tommy shoots one man, the blood spray comes from in front of man.See more »
Reverend Rufus:Mama! Does Tommy know you're here?
Mama Gibbs:Pray for him, Rufus... you were always a good boy, pray for him.
Reverend Rufus:Okay Mama, we'll pray for him.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Spoofed in Coonskin (1975)See more »
Like It Is, Like It WasSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Veni, Vidi, Vici ... Tommy!, 4 March 2014
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls

This review's title obviously refers to a famous Julius Caesar quote, and personally I think the greatest thing about "Black Caesar" is the subtle title reference towards the great historical leader. I deliberately state "subtle" reference, because the name itself isn't mentioned anywhere throughout the entire film, but the similarities between protagonist Tommy Gibbs and the Roman emperor are clever and relevant. Tommy also builds his own way to the top; in this case the conquering of a mafia empire that quickly becomes as over sized, cluttered and unmanageable as the Roman Empire. His methods are also merciless and strategic, but he also gradually transforms into a dictator feared by his loved ones as well as the target of conspiracies and assassination attempts. I don't know about you, but I think it's quite an ambitious and intelligent concept for a supposedly simple and low-budgeted piece of 70's exploitation trash! That being said, I have to admit that I nevertheless expected even more from this blaxploitation classic. I'm certainly not an expert in this domain, but I've seen the most important ones ("Across 110th Street", "Ganja & Hess"), the most outrageously entertaining ones ("Foxy Brown", "Truck Turner") and the passable ones ("JD's Revenge", "Blackenstein"). "Black Caesar" somewhat balances between the first two categories, as the script isn't solid enough to be important and not cool enough to be outrageously entertaining. Basically it's just Fred Williamson looking mean and shooting white mobsters in the chest so that he can take their place in the New York gangster hierarchy. During this process he abuses and scares off the people he initially wanted to protect, like his mother and childhood friend. The film features too many dull parts and repetitive sequences. Every conflict is solved with a bullet and end with a close up of a dead body covered in thick and bright red blood syrup. The most memorable sequences include the intro, with a teenage Tommy enrolling the criminal life, a virulent taxi/on foot chase in busy NY streets and a sadist final confrontation between Tommy and his nemesis. Other terrific elements for exploitation fanatics to enjoy are the swinging soundtrack (with James Brown's unique voice) and authentically raw and gritty set pieces. Williamson is excellent, of course, but Art Lund gives an even more impressive performance as the disgustingly corrupt cop McKinney. Larry Cohen's direction is uneven, but it was one of the first ventures of this multi-talented and versatile cult genius. There's a sequel entitled "Hell Up in Harlem".

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