Angry Robot

Black Caesar confusion, Moriarty

I’m getting confused over at the IMDB. The fantastically titled Hell Up in Harlem, a Larry Cohen picture from 1973, sports the tagline “Black Godfather is back…and there’s gonna be Hell up in Harlem.” However, the film Black Godfather was apparently released in 1974 – so is the Godfather back, before he even came the first time? Making the tag line to Black Godfather an improbable “Black Godfather is re-back… for the first time.” Which is wrong, of course. The database does not tell us the tagline for Black Godfather (although at first I thought a user comment was the tagline: “Nice try but no cigar!”) What’s more likely is that Hell Up in Harlem is the sequel to Black Caesar, which is also directed by Larry Cohen and features Fred Williamson as the Caesar character. In fact, the Black Caesar tagline-extravaganza suggests as much: “Hail Caesar, Godfather of Harlem…The Cat with the .45-Caliber Claws!” Still, wouldn’t you want to say “Caesar’s Back” rather than “Godfather’s back”? You might as well say “Gun-claw cat is back” for all the clarity it will provide about who’s back, and why.

I originally set out to post something about Michael Moriarty – the poor man’s Chris Walken – but I think the whole Michael Moriarty thing is a lot more complicated than I first thought. (Here we see that Larry Cohen, who directed Michael Moriarty in The Stuff, Q: The Winged Serpent and It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive, is an intriguing figure in his own right.) Therefore, I have decided to devote 20% of my time to what I am calling The Michael Moriarty Project: Island of the Michael Moriarty, an investigative work of b-cinema blogging.

BTW, it’s good luck to say Michael Moriarty over and over again.