Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)

Rated R

Based on the novel of the same title by the inimitable Chester Himes, this film is colorful, well-presented and action-packed for its era!  Set in the early 1970s, the film’s setting is the bustling, urban community of Harlem.  The viewer knows they’re in for a soul-filled, Black conscious ride from the very beginning, when the opening track features Melba Moore powerfully championing, “… Ain’t now but it’s gonna be … Black enough to be … Black enough to see … Black enough for me …”

Sourced from one of Himes’ novels in his hardboiled Harlem Cycle, the film, Cotton Comes to Harlem was co-adapted and directed by Ossie Davis.  The cycle, or series of novels, centers around Black detectives Ed “Coffin” Johnson (Raymond St. Jacques) and “Gravedigger” Jones (Godfrey Cambridge), hard-nosed, law enforcement officers who demand order in the chaos that accompanies the job to protect and serve.  In this tale, the detectives are trying to locate $87,000 that has gone missing from the Black Harlemites who donated monies to Reverend Deke O’Malley (Calvin Lockhart). 

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