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Black Caesar (1973)

Raised in Harlem, Tommy Gibbs becomes a successful mob boss but he clashes with the rival Mafia and his old enemy, dirty cop McKinney.

Director:

Larry Cohen

Writer:

Larry Cohen
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Minnie Gentry ... Momma Gibbs
Philip Roye Philip Roye ... Joe Washington
William Wellman Jr. ... Alfred Coleman
James Dixon ... Bryant
Val Avery ... Cardoza
Patrick McAllister Patrick McAllister ... Grossfield
Don Pedro Colley ... Crawdaddy
Myrna Hansen Myrna Hansen ... Virginia Coleman
Omer Jeffrey Omer Jeffrey ... Tommy as a Boy
Michael Jeffrey Michael Jeffrey ... Joe as a Boy
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Storyline

Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy, his leg is broken by a bad cop on the take, during a payoff gone bad. Nursing his vengeance, he rises to power in New York City's Harlem. Angry at the racist society around him, both criminal and straight, he sees the acquisition of power as the solution to his rage. He performs a free-lance hit on a Mob contract to attract the attention of the head of a Mafia family. Reluctantly accepted into 'The Family,' he grows increasingly autonomous and aggressive, eventually starting a gang war. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Hail Caesar, Godfather of Harlem...The Cat with the .45-Caliber Claws!


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 February 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El padrino de Harlem See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When filming in Harlem, Larry Cohen was accosted by local gangsters who threatened to disrupt the shoot unless they were paid off. Instead, Cohen offered them small roles in the film. They helped so enthusiastically that they attended the premiere to sign autographs. See more »

Goofs

When Tommy's henchmen are being assassinated, a bearded one wearing a Gray Apple-Jack hat is shot on the street and ends up dying on a two-wheeled cart. His dying act is not to clutch where he was just shot, but hold on to his rather large Apple-Jack hat as he rolls down the cart. See more »

Quotes

Tommy Gibbs: You can sleep until noon, if you want anything, just press a button.
Mama Gibbs: Me? Live in this apartment? Why they'd hang me right off that terrace, Jew folks ain't even allowed here.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the original theatrical version, when a wounded Tommy Gibbs is seen wandering in the slums at the film's conclusion, the film fades to the New York skyline with the caption AUGUST 22, 1972 appearing and then the end credits. However, on European prints and the current version issued on VHS, DVD, and Blu-Ray, the ending included a scene where a street gang robs, beats, and kills Tommy and then the usual skyline fade and credits. Therefore, the current MGM version is labeled as an "accidental" director's cut. It also lacks continuity purposes for the subsequent sequel, HELL UP IN HARLEM, when released overseas, when Tommy is mysteriously brought back to life. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Missing Reel: Blaxploitation (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Like It Is, Like It Was
Written by James Brown and Fred Wesley
Performed by James Brown
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Shouldn't be so cool but it is.
22 November 2004 | by susanswebSee all my reviews

A low budget remake of "Little Caesar" with a scene from "Scarface" thrown in should not be this enjoyable. Credit two people: star Fred Williamson and writer/director,Larry Cohen. In Williamson's hands, Tommy Gibbs is a magnetic presence. He is very cool and smart. His success is no surprise but also his downfall is no surprise. How he turns could have been overplayed or understated for an actor with more ego. The scene was necessary and effective because in the end this movie was not about glamorizing gangsters. Cohen's contributions are also significant. He understood he wasn't making a message film, even though the message is there. The movie is full of bloody violence (it seemed to me that during the pool massacre, some of the victims were spouting blood before they were shot) because that was what fans of this genre wanted. In the end, however, viewers see that even with James Brown blaring about what a bad mutha Tommy Gibbs was, he was just as much a pawn as everyone else. Of course, the sequel would change that thought.


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