“Never have so few owed so much to so many.”
A factory worker (Sidney Poitier) and his taxi-driving buddy (Bill Cosby) visit a chic after-hours club one night, where they’re held up at gunpoint by a gang of masked robbers. When Poitier realizes that a winning lottery ticket is in his stolen wallet, he and Cosby set out to recover their valuable property; soon they find themselves embroiled in a vicious gang war between Geechie Dan Beauford (Harry Belafonte) and Silky Slim (Calvin Lockhart).
Sidney Poitier directed and co-starred in three comedic “buddy pictures” with Billy Cosby during the mid-1970s; Uptown Saturday Night was the first of these. It’s lighthearted, innocuous fare, with a smattering of enjoyable moments and performances sprinkled throughout (the inimitable Harry Belafonte is nearly unrecognizable as a stuffed-cheeks “don”), but the screenplay drags in parts, ultimately seeming more like an excuse for amusing vignettes than a compelling narrative. It doesn’t offer nearly as many genuine laughs as its much sillier follow-up, Let’s Do It Again (1975), which I recommend as “must see” viewing instead.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fun, believable rapport between Cosby and Poitier
- Cosby smooth-talking his way out of a confrontation with “Little Seymour Pettigrew”
- Harry Belafonte as Geechie Dan Beauford — clearly having fun riffing on Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone
No, but it’s worth a look simply for historical purposes.