Uptown Saturday Night (1974)

Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte, Flip Wilson,
Uptown Saturday Night is a movie starring Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, and Harry Belafonte. At Madame Zenobia's illegal nightclub, when Steve Jackson and Wardell Franklin get robbed of their wallets containing a winning lottery...
  • 6.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Richard Wesley, Writer:
  • Director:
  • Melville Tucker, Producer:

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8 / 10

Don't Overlook This One

Despite it's obvious lack of a huge budget and the wildly out-of-style fashions and slang (yes, kids..we really DID dress and talk like that back in the '70's...I KNOW...I was THERE) UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT shouldn't be passed up when it's shown on your cable or satellite provider stations.

Sidney Poitier (who directed) and Bill Cosby play two working stiffs who sneak out of their homes to hang at Madame Zenobia's, a high-class after-hours joint. After bluffing their way in, they immediately set about enjoying themselves at the gambling tables and are on a roll when the joint is robbed. The two consider themselves lucky to have gotten out alive, but then Poitier's character finds out he's got a winning lottery ticket worth $50,000(don't laugh..back in '74, that was a LOT of money) and the two pals start a frantic search to find the robbers and locate the winning ticket (it's in a wallet taken during the robbery)

UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT is filled with quirky and oddball hustlers, grifters, crooked politicians, ghetto gangsters and cheap floozies, all brought to life by some of the most talented black actors of the day. And the movie also has two of the most beautiful actresses ever to be filmed, namely Rosalind Cash and Paula Kelly. Poitier and Cosby encounter a series of very funny adventures as their hunt for the winning lottery ticket forces them into a partnership with Geechy Dan Buford (an outlandishly hilarious Harry Belafonte) and Silky Slim (Calvin Lockhart) in order to get it back. Can the two working stiffs outhustle and outwit the hordes of street-wise slicks standing between them and a fortune? Watch the movie to find out and I think you'll agree that its worth the time to find out the answer.

Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby made two other films in this kind of comedy/caper genre. LET'S DO IT AGAIN is just as good (with a thrilling and side-splitting foot chase near the end and Jimmy J.J. Walker as the heavyweight champion boxer of the world) but A PIECE OF THE ACTION is a little bit more on the serious side with an added dose of social commentary...still, during the blaxplotation era of the '70's, these films were a delightful alternative to the 'kill-whitey-stick-it-to-The-Man-superbrotha-pimpin'-and-shootin-' movies that were also being produced then. I recommend all three of them very highly. Enjoy.

7 / 10

one for the ages

Uptown Saturday Night is timeless. the cast was as strong as the stars of their times, and it would be hard row to hoe, to try and duplicate or re-make. Poitier and Cosby were priceless, and Harry Belafonte and Richard Pryor in their roles elevated the story. i have it on VHS and not a week goes by that i don't cue up at least one or two scenes, even if just to see and hear Cosby tell lie after lie. a true classic. The humor was slick and clean for it's time without the profanity and vulgarity which is the norm of today's genre. I did enjoy both Barbershop films, but it pales in comparison to USN. maybe because i'm from the old school, and I hold the trailblazers with high esteem and respect. Uptown Saturday Night made it's mark, and still does.

7 / 10

Poitier & Cosby's Best Pairing

This film still holds up years after it was first released. Steve and Wardell (Sidney Portier and Bill Cosby) are two working stiffs that try to get by. Wardell talks Steve into coming with him to a place called Madame Zenobia's (A HOT spot!). During the outing, the place gets robbed. Steve finds out later that he won the lottery. Trouble is, the winning ticket is in the wallet that was stolen. With the help of Wardell, they do just about ANYTHING to get the ticket back, and that is what makes this film fun. Harry Belafonte, Richard Pryor and Calvin Lockhart and just as wonderful. Worth checking out for the laughs, not just for 70's nostalgia.

8 / 10

Uptown Saturday Night was an enjoyable first teaming of Poitier and Cosby

In reviewing movies in chronological order that featured African-Americans for Black History Month, we're now at 1974 with Uptown Saturday Night. This was the first of three buddy comedies that paired Sidney Poitier with Bill Cosby. This was also Poitier's third directorial assignment after Buck and the Preacher and A Warm December. Instead of the perfect professional characters superstar Sidney had been playing for years, here he's just a working class man named Steve Jackson who's pals with Cosby's Wardell Franklin. As Steve's wife Sarah, Rosalind Cash has some nice, and partially racy, dialogue with Poitier but Ketty Lester seems wasted as Wardell's spouse Irma. With a script by Richard Wesley, Poitier shows some amusing touches though it does take a while for the story, about getting robbed as the two leads spend the night at an illegal gambling joint called Zenobia's before Steve finds out his winning lottery ticket was among the stolen items, to kick into gear. When it does you get treated to a hilarious supporting cast like Flip Wilson as the Reverend, Richard Pryor as Sharp Eye Washington, Roscoe Lee Browne as Congressman Lincoln (dig the way he turns a frame of Nixon to that of Malcoln X and then puts on his African digs when he meets his "constituents" Steve and Wardell), Paula Kelly as Lincoln's wife Leggy Peggy who the boys previously met at Zenobia's, and dancer Harold Nicholas as Little Seymour Pettigrew. That last character has a hilarious encounter with Cosby and Poitier himself cuts loose with some jokes you didn't think would come out of him. Also loved many of the "fights" the Cos instigates. Then there's Calvin Lockhart as Silky Slim and Harry Belafonte as Geechie Dan Beauford. These are rival gangsters that Steve and Wardell seek out to help find the stolen goods. Belafonte looks like he's having the time of his life impersonating Marlon Brando's Godfather role though I found him fitfully amusing like when he threatened to "knock the black off" Poitier and Cosby. Still, Uptown Saturday Night was a mostly enjoyable comedy that I bought on DVD with A Piece of the Action on the disc's other side. Dig Cosby's beard!

7 / 10

wonderful rejection of black stereotypes

with this little movie, Poitier and Cosby manage to elude the traditional stereotypes of black comedies and the blacksploitation films. rather than laughing AT the characters, we are laughing at the situations and their reactions.

i also heard that Marlon Brando laughed out loud at the gangster parody of his Godfather role. me? i couldn't stop laughing throughout the film. madcap and absurd, this movie has several memorable sequences and conversations.

i don't know why this film is not more widely known. it plays with film convention, parodies everything from Godfather to hard-boiled detective movies, and all the while maintains an inspired sense of humor mixed with stand-up and vaudeville influences.