‘Cotton Comes to Harlem’ – The Neo-Noir That Black America Needed

At first blush, Cotton Comes to Harlem may not seem like a traditional noir production. But over time, the 1970 film has become one of the most vivid examples of the genre being inclusive. And it came right on time for those who were Black in America to see another side of their world represented in such a bold way. Cotton Comes to Harlem, inspired by the book of the same name by famed Black author and expatriate Chester Himes, starts out with a rally held in Harlem by Reverend Deke O’Malley (Calvin Lockhart) to raise money for a “Back to Africa” movement cruise ship he calls “Black Beauty." The event is overseen by two New York Police Department detectives, “Grave Digger” Jones (Godfrey Cambridge) and “Coffin” Ed J
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