Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Overlooked Movies -- A Rage in Harlem

A Rage in Harlem is loosely based Chester Himes' For Love of Imabelle. This time instead of a bale of cotton stuffed with cash, the mcguffin's a car with a trunkload of gold, brought to New York by Imabelle, played by Robin Givens as Imabelle, who looks great in red. Coffin Ed and Gravedigger are players, but the heavy lifting is up to Forest Whitaker as the naive shulb Imabelle picks to help her out. His somewhat smarter brother is played by Gregory Hines.

Those who have read Himes' novels (and if you haven't read 'em, go do it) know that they're filled with violence and dark humor. This movie comes as close to capturing their spirit on film as about anything could, I think, which means it's very bloody and also funny, at least to me. I'm afraid this is another one that nobody likes except me. And maybe Fred Blosser, judging from his comment last week.

This is also another movie with a great soundtrack. In fact, right after the movie, which I saw in a mall theater, I walked down to a music store and bought a soundtrack cassette. A few years later, I bought it on CD. It's that good. Just for fun, here's a track listing:

1.Brown Eyed Handsome Man - Chuck Berry [2:16]
2.Walking Along - The Solitaires [2:35]
3.Elevator Operator - Little Richard [2:21]
4.We Belong Together - Robert & Johnnie [2:45]
5.Juke - Little Walter [2:42]
6.Bo Weevil - Fats Domino [2:46]
7.Adios - Little Jimmy Scott [3:28]
8.Ain't Got No Home - Clarence Frogman Henry [2:20]
9.Please Please Please - James Brown [2:45]
10.Church Bells May Ring - The Willows [2:27]
11.Heaven is in Your Heart - Darryl Pandy [4:05]
12.Honest I Do - Jimmy Reed [2:45]
13.Pledging My Love - Johnnie Ace [2:27]
14.Sugar Daddy Blues - LaVern Baker [2:57]
15.Just Because - Lloyd Price [2:47]
16.Luckiest Girl in the World - Betty Boo [2:07]
17.Dust My Broom - Elmore James [2:53]
18.I Asked for Water - Howlin' Wolf [2:51]
19.I'm in Love Again - Fats Domino [2:01]
20.Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley [2:29]
21.Why, Oh Why? - Betty Boo [2:40]
22.Let the Good Times Roll - Shirley & Lee [2:23]
23.A Rage in Harlem - Little Jimmy Scott [3:23]
24.Heaven is in Your Heart (90s version) - Darryl Pandy [3:47]


pattinase (abbott) said...

I remember when there were music stories in malls. Or music stores at all. And movie theaters. No more. I enjoyed this too.

Anonymous said...

I have that CD. Jsut great stuff.


George said...

Great soundtrack! Nobody is making music like that anymore.

Fred Blosser said...

Yep, good movie and outstanding cast.

Anonymous said...

Geezer alert - we've seen many of those performers live over the years: Fats Domino, Little Richard, James Brown, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry of course, and Lloyd Price.


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Great choice and you are of course dead right about the soundtrack though I think the venerable Elmer Bernstein contributed one of his best jazz scores for the movie in my opinion.

Todd Mason said...

I remember liking it, but not too many details stick in the memory...

Juri said...

Same here: I remember liking the film, but can't seem to remember anything other than Robin Givens's butt. (I think there's a very flattering close-up.)