Movie Review Mondays: Harlem Nights

It’s Black History Month, we’re already 8 days in, and I can’t see a Movie Review Monday going by without at least making mention of another personal favourite, Harlem Nights (1989).


*Cue S1:E2*


This movie takes place between the late 1910’s-1930’s, and follows part of the life of Vernest Brown, or “Quick”, as he’s affectionately called (played as a youngster by Desi Arnez Hines II, and as a young man by Eddie Murphy). Quick starts off as an errand boy for Sugar Ray, the owner of what was then called Ray’s Place, a local club in Harlem. A dispute occurs at the dice game the Ray was running and a death threat was made to him from a sore loser who claimed that kids brought him bad luck. Quick lived up to his name and straightway pulled Ray’s hidden gun from under the pool table and shot the old tyrant right in his forehead. Ray discovers that both of Quick’s parents are dead, and he figures that he’ll take the young man off of the streets.


Skipping to about 20 years later, Ray’s Place is now called Sugar Ray’s, and the father-and-son duo are running it magnificently with gambling and a brothel in the back being two of the many money-making facets of the establishment. Quick meets an absolutely gorgeous woman by the name of Dominique LaRue, who works for Bugsy Calhoune, the owner of the biggest competitive joint in the city. Calhoune wants what he can’t have (Sugar Ray’s) and does what he can to try and take it by any means necessary.


I won’t say too much more, mainly because I really want you to watch it for yourself, but LaRue tries to kill Quick (big mistake), both Calhoune’s and Sugar Rays clubs get damaged in a way that’s similar to the events of Robin and the 7 Hoods, and Calhoune and his friends get (literally) blown to smithereens.


I give it an 8.5/10. I’d probably even dare say a 9. The plot, the storyline, the wardrobe, etc. were just so well done.


Standing as the only move that Eddie Murphy directed, I think it’s fair to say that he did a stellar job.


Let’s explore some of the outfits, shall we?



Now, you have to have some guts to pull off a 4x1 double-breasted suit (that is to say 4 buttons total, with one working button). Why? Because it’s uncommon and a suit that embodies true individuality, in my opinion. Furthermore, it takes even more guts to wear a shade of colour completely opposite from what the majority, if not all, of the gathering is wearing. Quick is indeed, as we can conclude, a pretty gutsy man and I wouldn’t change this look for anything! The choice of a wide shawl lapel adds the elegance that is necessary to make his outfit pop even further. If you ever see me in a jacket like this, just know that Mr. Quick did it first.


Now the tables have turned, in that Sugar Ray (played by Richard Pryor) is in white, while Quick is in black. Sugar Ray is defying the odds and going against the grain in an absolutely beautiful brocade-esque jacket and vest, both with satin lapels. This ensemble is quite interesting, simply because what Ray does here is something that I love to do as well; mixing collars. He has on a shawl lapel for his vest, and a wide peak lapel for his jacket. Quite frankly, this outfit is unorthodoxly timeless.


Now there are quite a few more outfits that I can go through, but I really would like you all to take a look at the film for yourself. Be sure to reach out to us on Instagram and/or Facebook after you’ve watched, and let us know some of your favourite looks! We’d love to hear from you!


We’re also always open to suggestions, so feel free to message us with any movie ideas you may have that would be great for another MRM.


 If any of these looks interest you, we here at TDG would be absolutely honoured to create them for you.



Nicholas A. Russell