A Rage in Harlem Reviews
Surprised to see so few votes and comments for A Rage in Harlem - it was a modest commercial hit in Britain, so perhaps the all-black casting and setting just didn't play Peoria.
The tone of this stylish, good-looking period crime adventure swings wildly between brutal, raunchy, tragic and comic, but a clever, funny script and likeable characters - especially Gregory Hines's big-hearted wiseguy Goldy, but also several delightfully written minor roles - maintain attention and sympathy throughout what could otherwise have been a bumpy ride. It's an emotionally engaging film, much more character-driven than the average urban thriller of the 1990s.
Its purely incidental pleasures are many, topped by a splendid musical treat in the shape of cult R 'n' B hero Screamin' Jay Hawkins, giving a no-holds-barred performance of his voodoo classic I Put a Spell on You at the Harlem Undertakers' Ball. If you have a taste for the old school of black show business, this sequence will have you holding up the rest of the picture until you've given Screamin' Jay an encore.
Thrills, laughs, and pathos, dished up with verve and heart, make a film that many of us still remember very affectionately.