Film: Ragtime

Opened: November 20, 1981

Directed by: Miloš Forman

Starring: James Cagney, Brad Dourif, Moses Gunn, Elizabeth McGovern, Kenneth McMillan, Pat O’Brien, Donald O’Connor, James Olson, Mandy Patinkin, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Mary Steenburgen, Debbie Allen, Jeffrey DeMunn, Robert Joy, Norman Mailer, Edwin Cooper, Jeff Daniels, Fran Drescher, Frankie Faison, Alan Gifford, Richard Oldfield, Richard Griffiths, George Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Jeter, Ethan Phillips & John Ratzenberger

When a film from the 1980s based on stories from the early 1900s still rings true in 2020, you know there is a problem in the world and its views on race and violence.

As black pianist Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Howard E. Rollins Jr.) gets involved with a white family, tensions arise. Socialite Evelyn Nesbit (Elizabeth McGovern) rises to fame after her husband Harry K. Thaw (Robert Joy) shoots her lover Stanford White (Norman Mailer).

The film is full of strong performances with many of them from now-established actors – like McGovern, Mandy Patinkin, Jeff Daniels and Samuel L. Jackson.

With a strong script, it’s fascinating to watch all the stories intertwine. Though the film is never exactly lighthearted, it takes quite a turn and shows how racism wrongly affects people.

Final say: A lasting and unfortunately ignored message. ★★★★☆

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