Cotton Comes to Harlem spearheaded the blaxploitation revolution in the early 1970s: These were mainstream studio films, a number of which were made by black filmmakers, intended primarily for an urban black audience. Ossie Davis, an actor known for his roles in films as diverse as Malcolm X and Bubba Ho-Tep, directed and co-wrote the script for this slam-bang action-comedy, adapting a prime slice of pulp material from expatriate novelist Chester Himes. What’s more, Cotton Comes to Harlem emphasizes, more emphatically even than standard blaxploitation fare, the tumult of race relations in the era of the civil rights movement, and also deals frankly with internecine tensions within the black community in Harlem. As the film’s Back-to-Africa evangelist might inquire: “Is that black enough for you?” Slant Magazinef


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