7.3/10
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55 user 38 critic

Ragtime (1981)

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)
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:

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

James Cagney's memory was failing him, and cue cards had to be used. 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

Rheinlander Waldo: That library over there is worth millions and people keep telling me you're a piece of slime.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Forty Deuce (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Good. Not Great or Even Near Great...Just Good.
23 January 2006 | by chconnolSee all my reviews

"Ragtime" is a very mixed bag. On paper, virtually everything about it seems right. The production values are absolutely first rate, the cast is excellent. Can't fault the direction either.

But...something's missing.

Though it's hardly a bore, there's something about Foreman's "Ragtime" that simply doesn't ring and feel true. It all feels so staged and deliberate. It simply lacks a feeling of reality. It reminds me of one of those stodgy historical films I was made to sit through in grade school in the 1970s when the Bicentennial was the rage. Those films showing America's progress were entertaining but never believable for even an minute. That's Foreman's "Ragtime". Rather than feel anything for any of the characters, the film is made out like some kind of historical pageant. Maybe that was Foreman's point but it doesn't work as drama and it never pulls the viewer completely into it's world.


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