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Ragtime Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By Sean Axmaker

Fact and fiction intertwine in Milos Forman's colorful kaleidoscope of E.L. Doctorow's sprawling novel of turn-of-the-century America. Anchored in the true story of the murder of architect Stanford White (Norman Mailer) by Harry Thaw (Robert Joy) over the affections of his wife Evelyn Nesbit (Elizabeth McGovern), Forman weaves a portrait of early 1900s America in a tapestry of intertwining fictional tales. The primary thread involves the proud black pianist Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Howard Rollins) and his demand for justice when a racist fireman destroys his automobile, which escalates into a reign of terror by Walker and a band of revolutionaries. A secondary story involves an ambitious immigrant artist (Mandy Patinkin) whose primitive flipbooks send him on the road to creating early cinema. Centering all of these stories in one way or another is an upper-class family known simply as Father (James Olson), Mother (Mary Steenburgen), and Younger Brother (Brad Dourif). James Cagney came out of a twenty-year retirement to play the irascible Irish police commissioner, a character created for the film. Forman's biggest departure from Doctorow's novel, however, is his focus on Walker's story, cutting away the other threads to little more than asides in the final half of the picture, the primary dramatic weakness of an otherwise rich evocation of America's past. Randy Newman's lyrical score and Miroslav Ondricek's understated cinematography earned two of the film's eight Academy Awards nominations.

Academy Awards

Ragtime received Academy Award nominations for: Supporting Actress (Elizabeth McGovern), Supporting Actor (Howard Rollins, Jr.), Writing (Best Screenplay based on material from another medium; Michael Weller), Art Direction/Set Decoration (John Graysmark - Art Direction, Patrizia von Brandenstein - Art Direction, Anthony Reading - Art Direction, George DeTitta, Sr. - Set Decoration, George DeTitta, Jr. - Set Decoration, Peter Howitt - Set Decoration), Cinematography (Miroslav Ondrícek), Costume Design (Anna Hill Johnstone), Music Scoring Awards (Best Original Score; Randy Newman), Music Best Song (Randy Newman - Music & Lyrics).


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Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)DVD unavailableBuy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Milos Forman

Stars: James Cagney, Elizabeth McGovern, Howard E. Rollins, Jr., Mary Steenburgen, James Olson, Brad Dourif, Kenneth McMillan, Mandy Patinkin, Donald O'Connor, Pat O'Brien, Debbie Allen, Moses Gunn, Norman Mailer, Jeff Daniels, Samuel L. Jackson, John Ratzenberger, Fran Drescher, Michael Jeter

Released: November 20, 1981

Availability: VHS CD

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