Sight and Sound - 03/01/1982
"...Cagney manages to show us a thing or two about legend and popular memory..."
Variety - 11/18/1981
"...Superbly crafted....RAGTIME is a major achievement..."
USA Today - 11/26/2004
"[A] gorgeous-looking DVD."
Based on the acclaimed and popular E.L. Doctorow novel, RAGTIME tells the intricate story of four New York families--three of which are fictional--at the turn of the 20th century, each indicative of that time in American history, and highlighting some of the downsides of following the American Dream. Starving immigrant artist Tateh (Mandy Patinkin) will eventually set off to make his fortune in Hollywood, but not without a chance encounter with Evelyn Nesbit (Elizabeth McGovern in the role of the real-life showgirl). Nesbit was the center of the infamous (and, in the film, the very compelling) Thaw-White murder case, in which her mentally unstable millionare husband Harry K. Thaw (Robert Joy) murdered her lover, the famed architect Stanford White (Norman Mailer). Another storyline follows the disintegration of an upper-class American family headed by Mary Steenburgen (simply named Mother) and James Olson (Father). Their seemingly perfect existence is shattered when black ragtime pianist Coalhouse Walker (Howard E. Rollins), loosely modeled on Scott Joplin, begins to romance a pregnant young woman living in their home (Debbie Allen). Walker, a dignified man, turns to rage when he is tormented by local racists. One of the most impressive moments in this ambitious film is the appearance of veteran actor James Cagney who, at 81, plays feisty Police Commissioner Waldo.
Based On A Novel |
Family Interaction |
Musical Sequences |
New York City |
Period Piece |
Pianists / Pianos |
Race Relations |
Theatrical Release |
RAGTIME was Pat O'Brien's last feature film.
The film marked James Cagney's last big-screen appearance. His final acting performance was in the made-for-TV movie TERRIBLE JOE MORAN (1980).
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