Ragtime - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ragtime Reviews

Page 1 of 6
May 29, 2016
Wondering how this will look like as musical. Not bad as a movie 30 yo.
May 10, 2016
The problem with most of the reviews I've read about this film is they worry too much about the source material and what was left out. They lament how the film varies from the book, omitting details that, had they been included, would have pushed Ragtime to miniseries length, not a stand alone movie.

Taking the movie on its own merits, it is a masterfully coordinated collection of many characters (mostly fictional) whose lives intertwine in multiple ways. Where other movies beat you over the head pointing out such coincidences, Ragtime presents them with a subtlety you don't often experience in American cinema. All actors in the film deliver -- from legends like James Cagney to bit part players like Fran Drescher (of all people) -- and none quite so brilliantly as Howard Rollins who shines brightly here at the height of his short career.

I've always thought Ragtime is one of those special films -- underrated upon its release and a thing popular movie audiences don't quite know what to do with -- that will one day be considered a masterpiece. After recently watching it again after many years, I have no reason to think otherwise.
January 13, 2016
i saw this movie when i was a kid and watch it briefly tonight on TV, its still a great movie even today. The quality of film is amazing and this movie really made everything look original for its time. Fantastic movie
½ April 9, 2015
Fine performance and Cagney's last while not memorable is worth seeing.
½ March 13, 2015
A rambling yet engaging story.

Set in the early 20th century the movie initially follows the lives of several characters, from different walks of life. Their stories are not independent - their lives do intersect, sometimes fleetingly, sometimes indirectly, sometimes more permanently.

This creates a rambling, unfocused, feel to the movie, especially in the first half to 2/3rds of it. After a while it mostly settles down and tends to focus on one main character, but in the early stages it is difficult to get into the movie, due to the disjointed nature of it.

Ultimately it is quite engaging, as you start to support certain characters and the plot takes shape.

Solid performances all round. ELizabeth McGovern and Howard E Rollins received Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, Oscar nominations for their performances.

James Cagney, 82 years old at the time, gives a great, gravitas-filled, performance as the Police Chief. This was to be his last cinematic role, though he did make one more movie, a TV movie, before his death in 1986.

Also interesting to see many now well-known stars in early-career minor roles: Jeff Daniels, Samuel L Jackson, Fran Drescher, John Ratzenberger.
½ February 8, 2015
Fine, sprawling period piece. A great swan song for Cagney.
½ October 1, 2014
A lot more enjoyable than I thought it'd be. Weller did a good job adapting the novel, getting rid of the slow-moving first half and leaping into the action. That being said, if I hadn't read the novel, the movie might've seemed overlong and dragging; having read the book, though, I couldn't help but compare it and feel like the movie moved very fast.

The other main strength is in the excellent cast. Howard E. Rollins was perfect for the role of Coalhouse Walker Jr, as was Brad Dourif as Younger Brother. Both of them were almost exactly how I pictured the characters. The movie also lends an immediacy to the plot that isn't felt from reading a novel, so I was able to sympathize with Coalhouse in a way that I didn't get to in the book. I still enjoy the book more, though, because of its strange first half, daring structure, and interesting voice.
August 24, 2014
"Ragtime" tells the intricate story of four New York families 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). Nesbit was the center of the infamous 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 Mother (Mary Steenburgen) and Father (James Olson). Their seemingly perfect existence is shattered when black ragtime pianist Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Howard E. Rollins), 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. Walker wishes to sue the city, but canīt find any lawyer willing to represent him. He decides then to exact revenge by planting a bomb in the firehouse. He then does the same in the J.P. Morgan Library, assisted by disguised friends. He demands that his Model T and the fire chief, Conklin, will be delivered to him or the library will be destroyed...

"Ragtime" is a 1981 American drama film, directed by Milos Forman, based on 1975 historical novel Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow. The film was nominated for eight Oscars. I havenīt red the novel yet, but bought it not that long ago. But, the movie version has been on my to see list since 1981 and finally I got hold of a DVD copy. "Ragtime" has a solid foundation, thereīs a focus on many strong subjects like racism, family life, love, life, death, dreams etc, itīs nicely shot and we get some really good acting performances from everyone involved. But, as Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote in 1981, "Yet I'm not at all sure that anyone who has not read the book will have any idea what's going on much of the time, or why.", which pretty much sums it up. Itīs quite clear Milos Forman didnīt succeed in getting a script that managed to put this epic book properly on the screen. The film crosscuts the different story lines, which in the book most likely come together in a way that works, awkwardly and the parts with Evelyn Nesbit and Tateh makes no real sense as you get the feeling that the main story is more or less the one concerning Coalhouse Walker Jr. Vincent Canby also wrote "This is a lot of plot for one film to cover coherently in a short period of time, and ''Ragtime'' doesn't. Time itself is totally confused. Years appear to pass, but the children don't age. As the movie progresses, one becomes aware of a kind of desperation on the part of the film makers." So, thereīs a failure in the editing as well and I can only say that ''Ragtime'' is a disappointment in the end as the production failed to create a coherent period piece in my eyes.
½ January 2, 2013
Milos Foreman's opus about early 1900's America works on a few different levels. It is a great costume and detailed film, good score, powerful acting, and a great cast (Steenburgen is a little iffy at times though). It was great to see some of the old school cats like James Cagney, in his final role, get screen time. Cagney and Brad Dourif definitely make this pretty great. Hey and there was a youngish Samuel L as part of Howard Rollin's gang. Ragtime was a movie that I always wanted to see based off me liking One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, and Man on the Moon. Sometimes the movies you want to see for years wind up sucking or disappointing but Ragtime was good.
October 19, 2012
This movie is one of my favorites. The plot line focuses on several people during this roaring time. All of them are twisted in some way, and have phenomenal dialogue. The cinematography captures that classical Ragtime feel (the score does too obviously). The ending truly feels convincing and not like historical fiction. The tone of the film is also quite dark which makes you feel an eerie suspicion whenever someone does something. Its just an epic adventure that you devote a lot of time for such a great pay-off. Please stop reading this and go see it!
August 14, 2012
cagney's first movie since 1961 billy wilder's 'one, two,three'
July 13, 2012
What happened to Elizabeth McGovern?
½ April 1, 2012
Ragtime is a Formanīs film about American society at the beginning of the 20th century. A film about tolerance and discrimination, about pride and revenge. A good film, but not my favourite one. Last week I saw The Man on the Moon and liked it MUCH MORE!
½ February 24, 2012
I thought it was a wonderful movie, played with great range by the actors, and an exquisite rendition of early 20th century New York with the costume and set designs.
½ December 24, 2011
Engrossing period drama about racial discrimination in the jazz age
November 28, 2011
A solid film with good performances all around. I must confess I have never read the book or seen the broadway musical.
½ July 29, 2011
For anyone unfamiliar with E.L. Doctorow's novel, RAGTIME is a complex, richly created tapestry of New York City at its turning point, involving an upper-class white family somehow getting mixed up in the trials and tribulations of a black pianist, a Jewish filmmaker, a sexy model, and a crusty police officer (James Cagney, in what would be his final film). What's particularly notable about this film is the casting of the actors; for many of them, from Brad Dourif to Moses Gunn to James Olson to Mandy Patinkin, this was their first film. It is interesting to see them in RAGTIME prior to when they became famous. The real star of the picture, though, isn't just the beautiful cinematography, but Randy Newman's score. This is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time, from the melancholy opening waltz to the showclosing "One More Hour". Longtime fans of the novel may be somewhat disappointed with Milos Forman's otherwise superb interpretation of the novel, which cuts out many of the historical figures and mostly focuses on the misfortunes of the black pianist (wonderfully portrayed by Howard E. Rollins Jr.) as his life devolves into one of vengeance against a racist firefighter. Consequently, it leads to a somewhat overlong final act. Even with this shortcoming, RAGTIME is still fine entertainment. It never gained the popularity of a subsequent musical show, but it definitely deserves a look.
Page 1 of 6