Cotton Comes to Harlem

Synopsis: Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are two black cops with a reputation for breaking the odd head. Both are annoyed at the success of the Reverend Deke O'Mailey who is selling trips back to Africa to the poor on the installment plan. When his truck is hijacked and a bale of cotton stuffed with money is lost in the chase, Harlem is turned upside down by Gravedigger and Coffin Ed, the Reverend, and the hijackers. Much of the humor is urban black, which was unusual in 1970.
Genre: Action, Comedy
Director(s): Ossie Davis
Production: MGM
  1 win & 1 nomination.
97 min

Ain't now

but it's gonna be


enough for me

ain't now

but it's gonna be

black enough to see

to see red

when the song is wrong

to see blue

when the fear is gone

to see green

on the pea-green sea

of humanity

in the wide, wide light?

Of the night

ain't now

but it's gonna be

black enough to be

black enough to see

black enough for me

to see red

when the song is wrong

to see blue

when the fear is gone

to see green

on the pea-green sea

of humanity

in the wide, wide light?

Of the night

ain't now

but it's gonna be

black enough to be

black enough to see

black enough for me

ain't now

but it's gonna be


Come see what I got for ya!

Come on, deke, come on!


I thought we told you

to stop working our

precinct, early riser.

We got bigger fish

to fry.

You do your trickin'

somewhere else.

Is that my-



Is everybody here

having a good time?

How about

that weather up there?

Is it fine enough for you?

How about me?

How about deke, your man?

How about me?

How about me?

How about me?



Am I big enough for you?

18 months ago...

I was down on my knees in

the white man's jailhouse.



I wasn't down on my knees

in the jailhouse to pray.



I wasn't even down on

my knees to shoot craps.

Ha ha!

Ha ha!

Deke o'malley

was down on his knees

in the white man's jail

cleaning out the

white man's toilet bowl!



All right!

So l-i asked the lord

to help me!

To show me the way!

And bless my soul, he did!


He did!

The lord come to me

in a dream!

He said,

"deke, I want to use you

like I used noah of old!"

He said, "deke, I want you

to build an ark

and sail my people home!"



And there she is,

black beauty!

Are you black enough

to hear me?

Amen! Amen!

For 3 months now,

in detroit, chicago,

los angeles,

baltimore, washington,

people have been

standing in line,

waitin' and waitin'

for a chance to get

on boardblack beauty.

'Cause, brothers,

we are going home.

Good-bye, rats and roaches!

Good-bye being

kicked and low-rated!

Good-bye getting

robbed and cheated!

Good-bye having to live

on the white man's welfare!

Right on, brother!

We are going home.

Come on! Next!

What's your name, miss?

You'll find salvation.

How the hell did he

get a permit for this?

Lieutenant says

it's a race leap.

It's doing good

for his people.

Thank you, reverend o'malley,

thank you.

We're going home

all going home

we're going home

we're going home

going home

we're going home

there you go.

Thank you.

But, sir, the minimum

down payment is $100.

Oh, please, ma'am.

You don't want to break ol'

uncle budd's heart, do ya?

$20. count it. It's all I

got in the world right now,

but give me a chance.

Please, ma'am.

Why not?

Yeah, sure.

Uncle budd?

Uncle budd.

Yeah, uncle budd.

There you go.

Okay, step right up!

God bless you, brother.

God bless you, brother.

Well, if it ain't king

kong and frankenstein.

Hey, ed, I didn't know these

cats was going back to africa.

They ain't. They're going right back

across the street where they come from.

Only thing I hate worse

than a honky pig cop,

and that's

a n*gger pig cop.

What kind of talk

is that, soul brother?

Don't you know that

black is beautiful?

Fly, baby.

Just cool it.



We're from the d.a.'s

office. He wants to see you.

D.a.'s office?

Well, I'm busy.

Now! Let's go!

Wait a minute, buddy!

Let's see

your credentials.

Quit stalling, o'malley.

Black judas!

That's what you are!


Now, now. I'm going

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Arnold Perl

Arnold Perl (April 14, 1914 – December 11, 1971) was an American playwright, screenwriter, television producer and television writer. Perl briefly attended Cornell University, but did not graduate. He had written for the television series The Big Story, Naked City, The Doctors and the Nurses, East Side/West Side and N.Y.P.D., which he created with David Susskind. Perl also co-wrote the screenplay for Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), actor Ossie Davis' film directing debut. Perl also wrote the play Tevye and his Daughters.Perl also wrote and directed the documentary film Malcolm X (1972). Perl died in 1971. He was nominated posthumously for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for his work on the film in 1973. Perl's script for the film was later re-written by Spike Lee for his 1992 film on Malcolm X. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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