A Rage in Harlem

There’s just enough atmosphere, comedy, and raw acting talent in Bill Duke’s amiable gangster-caper movie, A Rage In Harlem, to make you wish the plot weren’t a complete shambles. Based on a novel by Chester Himes, it’s set in Harlem in 1956, where Jackson (Forest Whitaker), a religious young man with portraits of Jesus and his mother hanging over his bed, finds himself in the middle of a violent gang war centering on a chest of stolen gold. Jackson has been made into such a primly devout nerd that, despite the best efforts of the roly-poly Whitaker, he never comes alive as a character. A Rage in Harlem starts out full of high spirits but quickly deflates. Still, it may well be remembered as the movie debut of Robin Givens, who, clad in the slinkiest of slinky dresses, wiggles and vamps with a comic panache that rivals Ann-Margret’s. It’s one thing to ooze sex appeal. Givens does it with style. C-

A Rage in Harlem
  • Movie
  • 115 minutes