Fiction

BLACK CAESAR

Larry Cohen
USA 1973
92min
V'10

Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy, he is beaten by a cop on the take during a payoff gone bad. Nursing his vengeance, he rises to power in Harlem. Angry at the racist society around him, both criminal and straight, he sees the acquisition of power as the solution to his rage.
Black Caesar was an homage to the Warner Bros. gangster movies. It was similar to Little Caesar, only it had a black cast. I got involved with that one when I was approached by the manager of Sammy Davis Jr., who was tired of playing stooge to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in their pictures. He wanted to do something on his own. He asked me if I had any ideas for Sammy and I suggested redoing Little Caesar as an all black gangster movie. The gangsters in the Warner Bros. films, like Jimmy Cagney and Edward G. Robinson – these were little guys, like Sammy, yet they were able to play tough guys. So, we agreed to do a Black Caesar treatment and they were going to pay me $10,000. I went ahead and wrote that. It wound up that Sammy didn’t have the money to pay me. I got stuck with the treatment and later on I ran into Sam Arkoff, who was the head of American International Pictures. He told me that he was looking for something in the genre of Superfly and Shaft; a black action film. I just happened to have that treatment ready to go. We showed it to him and made a deal right on the spot. (Larry Cohen)

Credits
  • Alex Vanderkar
  • Larry Cohen
  • Larry Lurin
  • Fenton Hamilton
  • James Signorelli
  • James Brown
  • Lyn Collins
  • Fred Wesley
  • Fred Williamson - Tommy Gibbs
  • Gloria Hendry - Helen
  • Art Lund - McKinney
  • D’Urville Martin - Rev. Rufus
  • Julius Harris - Mr. Gibbs
  • Minnie Gentry - Mama Gibbs
  • Philip Roye - Joe Washington
  • William Wellman Jr. - Alfred Coleman
  • George Folsey Jr.
American International Pictures (AIP) Larco Productions
MGM/Hollywood Classics
35 mm
col
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