Cotton Comes to Harlem

Cotton Comes to Harlem with Novotny Lawrence

Directed by Ossie Davis
/ 1970
97 minutes

Actor and stand-up comic Godfrey Cambridge stars in both films of this double bill of Blaxploitation forerunners. Directed by Ossie Davis, “Cotton Comes to Harlem” adapts Chester Himes’ novel, in which Harlem’s African-American population is conned by the Rev. Deke O’Malley (Calvin Lockhart), who is selling shares for the purchase of a “Back to Africa” ship. When gunmen steal the donations, NYC police officers Gravedigger Jones (Cambridge) and Coffin Ed Johnson (Raymond St. Jacques) pursue and eventually discover the cash is stowed inside a bale of cotton. St. Louis’ own Red Foxx co-stars. 

Intro and discussion by Novotny Lawrence, associate professor at Iowa State University, author of “Blaxploitation Films of the 1970s: Blackness and Genre,” editor of “Documenting the Black Experience,” and co-editor of “Beyond Blaxploitation.”