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Come Back, Charleston Blue

Come Back, Charleston Blue
File:Come Back, Charleston Blue.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark Warren
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn Jr.
Written by Peggy Elliott
Bontche Schweig
Chester Himes (novel The Heat's On)
Starring Godfrey Cambridge
Raymond St. Jacques
Music by Donny Hathaway
Cinematography Richard C. Kratina
Edited by George Bowers
Gerald B. Greenberg
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • June 29, 1972 (1972-06-29)
Running time
100 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English

Come Back, Charleston Blue is a 1972 film starring Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques, loosely based on Chester Himes' novel The Heat's On. It is a sequel to the 1970 film Cotton Comes to Harlem.


Coffin Ed Johnson & Gravedigger Jones are confounded by a string of strange murders in the neighborhood of Harlem, New York. The murders themselves aren't nearly as bizarre as the calling card left by the murderer: a blue steel straight razor. Legend has it that this was the calling card of Charleston Blue, a vigilante who tried to rid the neighborhood of all criminal elements using a straight razor. Blue, having disappeared years ago after he went after Dutch Schultz (with his trusty straight razor) was considered dead by all except his girlfriend, who kept his razors locked away until his "come back."

Soon after the murders start it is discovered that the razors were missing and all evidence points to Joe Painter, a local photographer, who has begun dating Carol, the beloved niece of mafia errand boy, Caspar Brown. Joe and Brown are at odds over Caspar's refusal to help Joe kick the mafia out of the neighborhood, so Joe enlists the help of a group of brothers and the spirit of Charleston Blue. However, Coffin Ed Johnson & Gravedigger Jones discover that Joe's plan doesn't seem to be exactly what he claimed it was.


The film was shot in Harlem,[1] which required producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. to negotiate with CORE and other groups over their demands for "money, jobs and control."[2]


This film was a sequel to the film Cotton Comes to Harlem: appearing two years later, it opened to mixed reviews, with critics feeling it was decent, but not riotous like the original 1970 film. In April 1972, less than three months before the film's release, Time magazine called the film "part of a new Hollywood wave of eminently commercial movies by blacks about the black experience," a wave that included Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, Shaft, Shaft's Big Score, Cool Breeze, Buck and the Preacher, The Legend of Nigger Charley, Super Fly, and Blacula.[2]

A. H. Weiler, reviewing the film for The New York Times, called it "only occasionally funny or incisive" with a "convoluted plot and dialogue that is often too 'in' for the uninitiated."[1]


All tracks written by Donny Hathaway except "Little Ghetto Boy" (Earl DuRouen / Edward Howard) and "Come Back Charleston Blue" (Al Cleveland / Donny Hathaway / Quincy Jones).[3]

Track Song Length
1 Main Theme 02:20
2 Basie 03:53
3 String Segue 00:34
4 Vegetable Wagon 01:07
5 Harlem Dawn 01:38
6 Scratchy Record 03:09
7 Explosion 00:23
8 Hearse To The Graveyard 02:46
9 Switch "Charleston Blue" 00:32
10 Come Back Basie 02:36
11 Detective's Goof 00:28
12 Gravedigger Jones & Coffin Head Johnson’s Funeral 03:02
13 String Segue 00:17
14 Little Ghetto Boy 03:50
15 Hail To The Queen 00:21
16 Drag Queen Chase 00:47
17 Bossa Nova 01:47
18 Tim's High 01:30
19 Furniture Truck 01:18
20 Liberation 02:52
21 Come Back Charleston Blue 02:04

In November 2007, Rhino Records released a remastered version of the soundtrack album, which included two new tracks, an alternate version and a live version of "Little Ghetto Boy."[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A. H. Weiler (June 30, 1972). "Come Back Charleston Blue, Sequel to Cotton in Harlem". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Show Business: Black Market". Time. April 10, 1972. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  3. [[[:Template:Allmusic]] "Come Back Charleston Blue"]. Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  4. "Come Back Charleston Blue". Rhino Records. November 12, 2007. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 

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