Movie Breakdown: Harlem Nights

With the end of this season of Game of Thrones, there isn’t a weekly show that I want to use to take its place. So lets talk some movies.

I thought we would start this new series, and talk about some of the classics of cinema, these are going to be movies that should be part of anyone’s collection. We are going to be doing this like a normal Q&A, if you have a movie and/or questions on a modern classic, let us know.

Harlem Nights1. How many times have you seen the movie, and how recently?

EJ: It’s been at least two years since I’ve seen the movie, but I must have seen Harlem Nights at least 10 times. I remember when my Dad got the VHS (sometime in 1990) and kicked me out of the room when he watched it. He didn’t want me to hear the cursing. Little did he know I ended up hearing the dialogue anyway. His TV was loud enough and I was only in the next room.

Jane: This is a movie I had never seen and probably never would if not for receiving an email from David. The first thing I did was check with Netflix to see if it was available for streaming…it was and I watched it on July 1, 2014. So, I’ve seen it only once but left it on the Instant Queue.

David: Several dozen times, I saw this again last week. I will stop on this movie whenever I pass it on cable, even though I’ve had the DVD for a good decade.

2. What are your feelings on the movie?Eddie and Della

EJ: I love it. I’m big into comedy and comedians, and any movie that has Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, and Eddie Murphy is a must see in my opinion. Considering I’m also a big fan of Coming To America, this movie was made in Eddie’s heyday. This was back when he wasn’t afraid to be raw, dirty, and go for the comedic juggular. It’s part of his golden age, really.

Jane: I don’t know what I was expecting but I felt the movie was too long and had too many fits of starts and stops…..it was lacking in fluidity, but that could have been caused by editing.

David: Its flawed, but a great flawed movie. I love this movie. Could this movie have been better? Of course, could it have been MUCH MUCH worse? Absolutely. There are far worse ways to kill an hour and a half.

3. What is your favorite part of the movie?Redd Foxx

EJ: When Quick (Eddie Murphy) shoots Vera (Della Reese) in her pinky toe. How can you not laugh at that? Also can’t say Vera didn’t ask for it. Quick wasn’t going to back down. Nah, he damn sure wasn’t going to do that. I’d argue that Vera steals the movie. Every scene she was in, was a scene you remember. Credit to Della Reese for holding her own with the big boys.

Jane: I liked the part of the movie where Tommy Smalls’ brother (played by Arsenio Hall) went after Quick (played by Eddie Murphy) because he thought Quick killed Tommy. In fact, it was the first time I laughed out loud.

David: So many great moments. Arsenio steals the whole section he is in, but my favorite is still Redd Foxx. When he is forced by Pryor to put on his glasses and he looks at the camera- just kills me everytime. Oh and “Put your mom on the phone. Hey, its me, I ain’t comin home no more- take it easy. ”

4. What is your least favorite character or part of the  movie?Jasmine

EJ: Least favorite character? I’m not crazy over the whole Dominique La Rue character. I know Jasmine Guy was real popular at the time, especially with the TV show A Different World doing well, but I didn’t really get the need for her. Quick and Ray were going to have their showdown with Calhoun regardless. La Rue doesn’t really add anything in my opinion.

Jane: My least favorite character was Bugsy Calhoune himself. He struck me as an Al Capone wanna be and that was probably the way he was supposed to be portrayed.

David: Dominique La Rue isn’t worth anything. I understand the draw, but she’s playing Too Cool, and she’s going for sultry, and just cannot pull it off. Lets also throw in Pryor’s wife and that whole scene. Don’t need it, does shit for the movie.

5.Did Smalls really steal from Buggsy?

EJ: Nah. I just think Buggsy was going to kill the guy regardless. Maybe he didn’t trust him because he was black, and he might have felt more inclined to eventually come over to Ray and Quick’s side of things. Who knows, but I don’t think Smalls was taking from Calhoun.

Jane: I don’t think Tommy Smalls stole anything from Bugsy. I think Tommy was set up.

David: I doubt it. I think he needed to open a spot for Quick, and to prove that he needed leadership at the kittykat club, since Sugar Ray’s was killing them during the week. I think it was convience.

 6. Did Phil Cantone die in the vault?Phil Cantone

EJ: I hope so, but I doubt it. Probably a ruse from Ray to give themselves some time. Cantone probably freaked out for awhile, then pushed on the damn door and realized it wasn’t locked. The damage was done anyway. Ray and Quick was gone.

Jane: Anyone locked in the vault of a bank that had been abandoned for 5 years is most definitely going to die there and Cantone deserved it. The only thing that topped it was the explosion in Cantone’s apartment when Bugsy and his crew were there.

David: Geraldo Rivera is going to find him one day. There isn’t a chance in hell they called anyone on it. Phil is a smart cop, and he would have tracked them to Chicago, and gone after them.

 7. Why did Jasmine Guy Sleep with Quick?Jasmine and Eddie

EJ: It’s what Calhoun wanted. The honey pot got to do her job. Thing is Quick wasn’t buying it and he killed her.

Jane: Dominique La Rue (Jasmine Guy) struck me as a woman who would do whatever it took to advance herself, including sleeping with whoever she was told to by Bugsy. The fact that he asked her if she wanted to sleep with Quick meant absolutely nothing.

David: Eddie wrote the movie and Jasmine is hot. Oh, Storyline-wise? To throw all the toys at Quick and what he could have if he joined. Maybe Eddie wasn’t very good, so she tried to kill him. Let also keep in mind that Quick is VERY smart- and La Rue wasn’t about to let a bunch of Calhoun’s men watch her have sex then bust in to kill someone, or be found by Quick. The way she did it- she got to pick and choose when she could do it.

8. If you could get a prequel/sequel/spinoff of the movie, what would you like to see?Della and Redd

EJ: I wouldn’t mind a sequel to be honest.  We can set the movie up in the 1940’s. Problem  is all the older comedians are now deceased, so maybe we can get Quick in the Ray role as mentor, to a younger talent. Eddie Murphy is now 53, so maybe he can be paired alongside a comedian in his 20s. Maybe we can get a Katt Williams in there, as another older seasoned comedian, and get some young comedians involved as well. If done right, a sequel could be a good vehicle for some talented young minority comedians that might not have the opportunity to be seen.

Jane: As for a prequel/sequel/spinoff, I don’t think so. I kept comparing this movie with The Sting (not fair, I know) and it just kept coming up lacking. As I said before, the movie felt like it bogged down in many areas but I’ll give it another watch sometime in the future.

David: Well, if we go back in time- I’d love to have seen a sequel with Redd and Della rebuilding in Chicago, and Quick showing up 20 minutes in to cause chaos. I know EJ wants a DVD of Sunshine, however.

Well, Hope you liked it, let us know what classic movie you’d like to see us go after- next week . . . Well, It might be the best Musical in Movie History!

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About Jane Gray 58 Articles
Born in the '50s, grew up in the '60s, got married in the '70s. Gave birth in the '80s and started collecting social security in 2013. My time is my own and I don't mind sharing my opinions on everything with everybody. I hate injustice, the truth is easier to remember than a lie. I like the New England Patriots, the Boston Celtics, the New York Mets, and that English futbol team from Liverpool.

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