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Ragtime (1981)

PG | | Drama | 25 December 1981 (USA)
A young black pianist becomes embroiled in the lives of an upper-class white family set among the racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events in early 1900s New York City.

Director:

Milos Forman

Writers:

E.L. Doctorow (based on the novel by), Michael Weller (screenplay)

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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... New York Police Commissioner Rhinelander Waldo
Brad Dourif ... Younger Brother
Moses Gunn ... Booker T. Washington
Elizabeth McGovern ... Evelyn Nesbit
Kenneth McMillan ... Willie Conklin
Pat O'Brien ... Delphin
Donald O'Connor ... Evelyn's Dance Instructor
James Olson ... Father
Mandy Patinkin ... Tateh
Howard E. Rollins Jr. ... Coalhouse Walker Jr.
Mary Steenburgen ... Mother
Debbie Allen ... Sarah
Jeffrey DeMunn ... Houdini (as Jeff Demunn)
Robert Joy ... Henry Thaw
Norman Mailer ... Stanford White
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Storyline

The story runs in the 1910's New York. Coalhouse Walker Jr. is a black piano player. He has won fame and fortune playing with a jazz band. Some white men do not like this situation, and one day they assault him and spoil his brand new car. Walker tries by all means to get justice, without an answer... Written by Michel Rudoy <mdrc@hp9000a1.uam.mx>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was Ragtime See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bir Zamanlar See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$151,351, 22 November 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$21,015,710
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Elizabeth McGovern was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role that year for playing Nesbit, but lost to Maureen Stapleton, who won for playing Emma Goldman in Reds (1981). See more »

Goofs

Charles W. Fairbanks was not Vice President when he ran with Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. He was a Senator from Indiana, chosen as Roosevelt's running mate that year. Roosevelt was William McKinley's Vice President; he became president when McKinley was assassinated, and had no Vice President for his first term. See more »

Quotes

Sarah: [about Coalhouse] He say one thing, and then he say another thing. And he make it all sound so good. It ain't nuthin' but talk, Ma'am. It ain't nuthin' but talk!
See more »

Connections

Featured in O.J.: Made in America (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

ONE MORE HOUR
(1981)
Words & Music by Randy Newman
Sung by Jennifer Warnes
See more »

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User Reviews

No, NOT the 30's, not the 20's, the 'oughts ...
1 May 2000 | by djexplorerSee all my reviews

1906, to be specific, is when Stanford White was shot -- which of course marks the beginning date bookmark of the movie.

The "declaration of war" -- WW I -- as announced in a Newspaper headline at the end of the film, bookmarks the end of the movie -- and of the era.

Not trivial points, since a good part of the interest of this movie lies it it's serving as a relatively rare window into this period. Which unlike the 1930s or the 1920s which the plot summary and first comment confuse it with, is not a period which is much portrayed in film.

I'd say it's a pretty good, although not great, "costume" film. The first half is much stronger than the second half, both in historical interest and in character development.

Worth seeing though. Perhaps try seeing it right after "Age of Innocence", which is set primarily in the New York of the 1870s (although entirely among the upper upper class, instead of the somewhat broader class look, and city/near country look of Ragtime).


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