Harlem Nights [1989]

This is a supremely disappointing film, especially considering the talent involved. Indeed, the cast would seem to be the summit of African American comedians, starring the three most influential standups of the modern era: Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, and Eddie Murphy. Murphy obviously was paying respect to his elders when he cast them as his father and grandfather in this story of Harlem in the 1930s. Written and directed by Murphy, the plot involves gangsters and rival nightclub owners but doesn't add up. What's a particular shame is that, with three comics as funny as Murphy, Pryor, and Foxx, there are so few laughs and so much misogyny. Do you really want to watch Della Reese get shot in the foot to shut her up? That's the level of the humor here. --Marshall Fine

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