Monday, September 5, 2011

Harlem Nights (1989)

Director: Eddie Murphy

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Danny Aiello, Michael Lerner, Della Reese, Berlinda Tolbert, Stan Shaw, Jasmine Guy, Robbin Harris

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They're up to something big.

Plot: Sugar Ray (Pryor), the proprietor of an illegal casino in 1920s Harlem, must contend with mobsters and corrupt cops who want to put him out of business. But with the help of his promising heir (Murphy), Sugar Ray pulls out all the stops to stay afloat.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Of course.

You wanna know what's a shame? That the second half isn't nearly as strong as the first half. This picture is filled with great performances. Murphy does his usual, likable self, Pryor shows how good he can be, Lerner makes a great mob boss, Aiello is all kinds of nasty, Reese throws a mean punch and Redd Foxx is the man. For me it starts to stumble at the halfway mark (and this comedy is a couple of minutes shy of two hours, mind you, which is probably about 10-15 minutes too long for this picture) after Murphy faces off with Arsenio Hall's character. After that it starts to drag. The love scene with Jasmine Guy is OK I guess but it brings the picture to a halt. It really wouldn't take much to eliminate that character altogether as she's not integral to the plot, but Murphy wrote and directed it and I reckon he felt there should be a love scene of sorts. I disagree but whatever. I'm still waiting on Hollywood to discover me and put me up there on the big screen.

I LOVE Vic Polizos' delivery when he talks to his wife at the end of this clip:

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