Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hell Up in Harlem (1973)

Director: Larry Cohen

Writer: Larry Cohen

Composers: Fonce Mizell, Freddie Perren

Starring: Fred Williamson, Julius Harris, Gloria Hendry, Margaret Avery, D'Urville Martin, Tony King, Gerald Gordon, Bobby Ramsen, James Dixon, Esther Sutherland, Charles MacGuire, Mindi Miller, Al Kirk, Janelle Webb

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Black Godfather is back...and there's gonna be Hell up in Harlem.

Plot: A gangster in Harlem must rescue his ex-wife, who has been kidnapped by the Mafia.

My rating:  6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

BLACK CAESAR (1973) was an instant hit and the producer went to it's writer/director Larry Cohen to make the sequel ASAP.  This sequel hit theaters that same year, ten months later.  It was a rush job beyond belief and it shows.  There are a lot of inserts where it's obvious the actors aren't in the room with the others.  There's one really bad one that has Williamson, Harris and Hendry sharing a scene but each actor was filmed at a different time.  It's awful.  But we don't watch these movies for the quality of the acting, dialogue, beautiful locations and Oscar-bait monologues.  These were cheap action pictures made to make money, warts and all.  So in that sense I kind of dug it.  D'Urville Martin isn't given much to do and his time is short and not funny at all, in one of his few dramatic turns.  Williamson is alright but he's not here to pour on that charm that he often showed.  I really liked how the story brought in Tommy's (Williamson) dad, Papa (Harris).  Julian Harris is always a treat to watch and Cohen had a stroke of genius adding Papa to the story and having him go from nothing to running the operation (like son, like father but without the violent and drawn out trek from rags to riches).  Overall it's not a bad watch and it's a little less entertaining than CAESAR but it's still mandatory viewing for fans of the genre. 

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