Movies that are slightly off.
Hail Caesar Godfather of Harlem!
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 Harlem, New York. Angry at the racist society around him, both criminal and straight, he sees the acquisition of power as the solution to his rage.
A lot of blaxploitation movies (even the good ones) can be pretty dopey male power fantasies, with incredible aesthetic window dressing to make up the difference - the music, the style, the characters, the acting, the dialogue, etc. But Black Caesar is a rare case of a very dark and complex character study that at times seems shackled by those same genre trappings.
But the overall effect is pretty unforgettable, mostly thanks to director/writer Larry Cohen and star Fred Williamson, both of whom are unafraid to portray Tommy Gibbs as a sometimes-loathsome killer who seems to have been doomed from childhood to one of several possible tragedies - he just ended up with the one that left him rich, powerful,…
Expected an typically "badass" blaxploitation experience but got something much closer to the classical tragedy the title references; a young hood rises to unprecedented power within the organized crime infrastructure of New York City and then realizes these cats did not come to praise black Caesar but, contrarily, to body him. Interesting to watch this on the heels of The Iceman, another movie about an outsider who gets in over his head with the Family only to find out that the organization only tolerates the Other for as long as it proves useful. But this is way better, with an ending that left me dazed and wounded - the music, so expertly composed and performed by James Brown, cuts out and we're left in stark silence; everybody in the audience I saw this with seemed to shuffle out in the same sad way.
All my favorite scenes were just Fred Williamson silently reacting to the racism around him.
Second best shinebox scene in cinema history, and it's a closer competition than you might think.
Who among us wouldn't trade it all to be Fred "The Hammer" Williamson dispassionately tossing fur coats from a high rise balcony one by one?
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…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
A little rough around the edges, although Larry Cohen's Black Caesar remains a gangster classic mostly on the strength of Fred Williamson's portrayal of Tommy Gibbs along with Cohen's depiction of this ruthless character, daring you to root for him.
Unlikeable yet charismatic, commanding every scene with his unpredictability Williamson's Tommy Gibbs is an undeniably intriguing character, presenting him at first as a wounded kid filled with venegeance, consumed by greed and power later on and ultimately undone by his own hubris, turning his friends against him in the end.
The beginning portions, especially the way in which he orchestrates his garner leverage and power at the outset, and the end of Black Caesar are…
....The Cat With The .45 Calibre Claws - Not only is this Larry Cohen's best film alongside It's Alive, it's also one of the greatest gangster movies ever made. As for James Brown's score? An essential for any soundtrack collection.
Soundtrack is unbelievable, but the sound design drove me up the wall.
Black Caesar was insanely cheesy as expected... full of point & snicker moments. There were a couple awkward attempts to find entrance to the theater and Petersburg street is just down right creepy, but all in all we had a good time there.
1973’s “Black Caesar”, directed by Larry Cohen, details the rise and fall of a Harlem gangster named Tommy Gibbs (Fred Williamson). The film introduces him as a shoeshine boy on the streets of Harlem in the 1950s. He spends his days running errands for the mob and shining shoes on the sidewalk. One fateful day, he crosses paths with a racist corrupt policeman, and is nearly beaten to death. With the support of his best friend, Tommy is able to rehabilitate his life, and before too long, is shown rising up the ranks of organized crime in Harlem. By the 1970s, Gibbs is now the finest dresses man in New York, and has taken over many of the rackets, however,…
I feel like De Palma's Scarface owes as much to this as it does the original Scarface. Far more complex than it seems under the surface, this is as much about shootin' dudes and lookin' cool as it is about heated racial tensions and morality. Damn curious to see how the hell they made a sequel though.
Also I'm still not what sure what to make of the very uncomfortable and misplaced moment where our wayward antihero proclaims to his wife (who is not in the mood) that he's going to rape her. And then he does. What the fuck
It's your average 70's NY gangster story.
good crime flick
The Godfather of Harlem works with the Godfather of Soul to give us Little Caesar, blaxploitation style. This was much better than expected.
It's interesting that Larry Cohen pretty much started the directing side of his career as a Blaxploitation director. As crime films go this isn't bad at all. I feel at their heart the "rise and fall" gangster movies are all very similar so they rely on their set piece to stand out. The set pieces in this film were entertaining and the James Brown soundtrack worked well with them. I think it is worth mentioning too that there is a scene where the protagonist beats a racist white cop with shoe shine box.
The wikipedia entry on Exploitation cinema is a bit hit and miss. Some films are nicely representative of their exploitation…
recommend shit to me, please! esp. little known sleazy stuff