Uptown Saturday Night
|Uptown Saturday Night|
|Directed by||Sidney Poitier|
|Produced by||Melville Tucker|
|Written by||Richard Wesley|
|Edited by||Pembroke J. Herring|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||104 minutes|
Uptown Saturday Night is a 1974 comedy film written by Richard Wesley, and directed by Sidney Poitier, who also stars in this film, along with Bill Cosby and Harry Belafonte. Cosby and Poitier teamed up again for Let's Do It Again (1975) and A Piece of the Action (1977). Although their characters have different names in each film, the three films are considered to be a trilogy. It opened to positive reviews and helped Poitier get into other films as star and director.
Steve Jackson (Sidney Poitier), a blue-collar worker at a steel mill, has just begun a two-weeks-long vacation. He is convinced by his friend Wardell Franklin (Bill Cosby) to go to a party that Saturday night at Madam Zenobia's, an uptown nightclub.
While the two are at the party, the club is robbed. The masked bandits force the patrons to strip to their underwear, then steal their money and jewelery, including Steve's wallet.
The following day, Steve is at home and reading his newspaper when he learns he has won the lottery. However, he realizes that the lottery ticket was in the wallet that was stolen from him, and Steve and Wardell spend the remainder of the film tracking down his wallet by consulting with crooked politicians, fake detectives, con-artists, and underworld crime bosses. As the ad for the film states: "They get funny when you mess with their money".
- Sidney Poitier — Steve Jackson
- Bill Cosby — Wardell Franklin
- Harry Belafonte — Geechie Dan Beauford
- Flip Wilson — The Reverend
- Richard Pryor — Sharp Eye Washington
- Calvin Lockhart — Silky Slim
- Rosalind Cash — Sarah Jackson
- Roscoe Lee Browne — Congressman Lincoln
- Paula Kelly — Leggy Peggy
- Lee Chamberlin — Madame Zenobia
- Johnny Sekka — Geechie's Henchman
- Lincoln Kilpatrick — Slim's Henchman #1
- Don Marshall — Slim's Henchman #2
- Harold Nicholas — Little Seymour Pettigrew
cameo appearances by:
- Ketty Lester — Irma Franklin
- Jophery C. Brown — Geechie Dan henchman
- Gene McDaniels — Member of the Choir
- Ray Parker Jr. — Ray
- George Reynolds — Big Percy
- Richard Warren — Driver
Shortly after the film's release, NBC commissioned a pilot for a sitcom version of Uptown Saturday Night, starring Cleavon Little and Adam Wade, playing the respective roles played by Cosby and Poitier in the film. The pilot did not sell, though it was seen on NBC during the summer of 1979 as part of Comedy Theater, one of many showcases featuring unsold pilots.
References in popular culture
An episode of Martin spoofed the club/robbery scene at Madame Zenobia's. "Jerome" owns a club called "Club Shiznit" that Tommy and Cole go to visit one night. As armed masked women enter the club and rob everyone "down to the underwear," one of them overhear Cole murmur to Tommy about being relieved that they did not discover the diamond earrings he was holding for Martin (who had planned to surprise Gina with them upon their return from a trip). The masked woman motions to Cole to hand the earrings over; Tommy tells her to just shoot him for running his big mouth.
The rapper Nas referenced Madame Zenobia's in his 2006 track "Money Over Bullshit."
Macedonian house duo Latenta Project released their track "Only One Life" with Apollo Records in 2010 which includes vocal samples and references to Madame Zenobia's throughout the track, featuring remixes by Those Twins, Artette and Ocean Gaya.
In 2002, it was announced that Will Smith and his production company, Overbrook Entertainment, had secured the rights to the trilogy for remakes to star Smith and to be distributed by Warner Bros. Smith stated that he hoped to get Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence and other famous African-American stars to be in the films. In 2012, it was reported that Adam McKay will direct the remake of Uptown Saturday Night, with Smith and Denzel Washington in the leads.