Harlem Nights (1989) – Review

3 Stars

Eddie Murphy, joins Richard Pryor and Red Foxx playing hoodlums in 1930’s New York in the comedy, Harlem Nights. Written, produced and staring Murphy, this collection of recycled clichés from older movies, notably The Sting, is a violent and fitfully amusing story that is better than the years of negative press would lead you to believe. Aided by collaborators of the highest level in all key departments, Murphy is able to deliver a sumptuous looking production that presents Pryor with a dignified role (remember Superman 3? See No Evil, Hear No Evil?) and gives Murphy an opportunity to look cool in period clothing.

Sugar Ray (Pryor) and his adopted son/protegé Quick (Murphy), run the hottest night spot in Harlem. Things are going well until an Italian mobster, Bugsy Calhoun (Michael Lerner) decides he wants in on the growing action. Naturally, Ray and Quick decline and instead fight back. Mixed up in the scheme is a crooked cop (Danny Aiello), a beautiful femme fatale (Jasmine Guy) and a collection of wise cracking hoods, notably Red Foxx as a blind card dealer.

Murphy fans may find this ambitious-if not wholly successful-undertaking of interest on a few different levels. It was unfairly criticized at the time of its release as being a mean-spirited ‘urban’ retelling of The Sting. Harlem Nights isn’t the best or the worst film Murphy appeared in during his golden era of the 1980’s

Director: Eddie Murphy
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *