Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) - Rotten Tomatoes

Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)

Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)

Cotton Comes to Harlem





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Cotton Comes to Harlem Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

One of the prototypes of the blaxploitation genre, the film was Ossie Davis' directing debut. The story concerns two Harlem cops (Godfrey Cambridge, E. St. Jacques) who investigate an Afro-centric preacher (Calvin Lockhart) and come to realize that he is much more than he appears to be. A sequel appeared later, entitled Come Back, Charleston Blue.more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Comedy, Cult Movies
Directed By:
Written By: Chester Himes, Ossie Davis, Arnold Perl, Arnold Perl
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 26, 2001


Redd Foxx
as Uncle Bud
J.D. Cannon
as Calhoun
Dick Sabol
as Jerema
Eugene Roche
as Anderson
Van Kirksey
as Early Riser
Helen Martin
as Church Sister
Turk Turpin
as Dum Dum
Lou Jacobi
as Goodman
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Cotton Comes to Harlem

Critic Reviews for Cotton Comes to Harlem

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Harlem is mostly about the ride, with chases and barbed banter urging the movie along, keeping the whole endeavor light on its toes.

Full Review… | September 27, 2014

One of the earliest and best Blaxploitation films.

November 5, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

October 31, 2003
Las Vegas Review-Journal

July 31, 2002
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for Cotton Comes to Harlem


Although often considered a forerunner of "blaxploitation", I wouldn't disagree with you if you called this a full on blaxploitation film. Stylistically it doesn't fit, but it is an almost exclusively black cast, black crew, and deals with black themes, so therefore, it is related. However, this isn't some campy stereotypical film that more than likely hinders black progress instead of helps it.

Instead, this is a hilarious film that is many things: comedy, crime film, satire, and buddy picture. There is tons of humor here, and, while I wasn't laughing all the time, it is quite funny. Most of the humor is of the slapstick vartiety, but some of it comes from wordplay, visuals, and situations, which can sometimes be dry in natiure.

This is the story of two unconventional detectives who try to catch a man who is pushing a "back to Africa" trip. In reality, that man is a fake, a huxster, and the two detectives have to try to catch hi and show the world who he really iis.

It surprised me that Ossie Davis directed this, because I didn't expect this type of film from hi based on my knowledge of his latter day resume. This is a great film though, It is quite funny, and fillled with substance and subtext, It's not overly preachy, but it's pretty obvious that this film has a message and isn't devoid of something more meaningful.

This isn't a campy blaxploitation film. In watching it though, one can see that this represents a high water mark for black films made for black people by black people. The only thing it really exploits is stuff that black people want to see. The subject matter is funny, and a bit surreal, because really, who thinks of cotton when they think of Harlem? It's an integral part of the film however, so it is necessary.

No matter who you are, there is bound to be something in here for everyone. This is a great film, and a true lost classic. Bravo Ossie, bravo.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


This is one of the funniest movies of the early 1970's. The story, the acting as well as the characters helped to make this a great film. In many ways this film was a preview of things to come due to the fact that the very next year with the premier of Shaft, the era of the "blaxploitation" film would begin. Also, you have to wonder if the team who created the Lethal Weapon series were somewhat inspired by this due to the fact that characters of Gravedigger and Coffin are somewhat reminiscent of Briggs and Murtaugh from that series. However, the thing that really made this fun was the brief appearance of Redd Foxx playing a character that was not dissimilar from the character that would earn him his biggest fame, Fred Sanford. This is definitely a lost classic.

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer


It's no Coffy, but it's a lot of fun.

Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

Cotton Comes to Harlem Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Cotton Comes to Harlem on our Movie forum!