The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, June 8-14

Harlem-Nights-Murphy-Pryor Harlem Nights (1989)
Directed by Eddie Murphy
A 28-year-old box-office champ with spunk as indelible as his chortle, Eddie Murphy could’ve made his directorial debut any vanity project he desired. Though his name also appears as writer and producer of Harlem Nights, Murphy instead used his pull to spotlight his heroes: foulmouthed trailblazers Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, booming jazz legend Della Reese, thespians Danny Aiello and Michael Lerner, and bestie Arsenio Hall. With Herbie Hancock’s jazzy mood and a taste for grit in tow, Murphy tames his big mouth for a vibrant recreation of the pre-war black mecca informed by his family’s memories. As the hotheaded orphan Quick, he imbues a traditional crime story with eighties energy, while Pryor gives after-hours club owner Sugar Ray his poignant vulnerability. Reese and Foxx, dirtying up their decades-strong chemistry, finalize Murphy’s preservation of where he truly comes from. Max Kyburz (June 8, 7:15pm at the Nitehawk)


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