Just some Harlem Boys

It is understandable for both Coffin Ed and Grave Digger to be how they are; tough and mean. The sixties was a rough place, especially for African Americans. With the Civil Rights movement reaching its climax, the beginning of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the draft, poverty and crime levels being extremely high in Harlem at this time. Also, violence was starting to pick up in this time, starting as peaceful protests but then quickly escalating. A feeling of rebellion covered this period, not only as black fight for their rights, but also whites fighting for African Americans as well as protesting and fighting the war. Coffin Ed and Grave digger develop the hard, mean persona as cops because they even say themselves it is the only way to get respect from the hoodlums that roam the streets. For African Americans, the height of the Civil Rights movement also meant the height of racial tensions and violence towards African Americans, leaving them distrustful and angry towards whites in general, regardless of whether or not they had done anything specifically to hurt them. The chief even slips up in front of Coffin Ed and Grave Digger, saying something along the lines of “you people”, which one of the detectives takes slight offense to and the chief realizes it and quickly tries to cover it up by saying “hell not you two, you know what I mean.” But for Coffin Ed and Grave Digger, they know how African Americans in Harlem are suffering better than anyone else in the station does. That’s why I feel like they break the rules so often; they aren’t doing it to get back at white people, but to better their African community. They are decent cops and get the job done, but they don’t always tell the whole truth if it will benefit their brothers and sisters.


There were quite a few differences in the film than in the novel. The main one I notices is that the movie has a lack of sex and X-rated content than the novel had. In the novel, nudity and sex came up many times throughout, including Deke and Mabel, Iris and Deke, Iris and the white police officer, and a few others. But in the movie, it seemed as though the only real sexual scene was the one between the cop and Iris. Maybe this was done because seeing something on the big screen and reading something in a book have two very different effects. I feel as though reading something it makes it more fictional, where as actually seeing a naked actor or actress may have had a more negative feeling, hence why they cut out some of the sexual innuendo. Also, it seems as though Coffin Ed and Grave Digger are much more knowledgeable in the film. In the novel, much of the time is spent going around, gathering information, and trying to put pieces together. The movie shows Coffin Ed and Grave Digger as basically smarter and able to figure out the crimes much faster and with ease. They seem to know where the bad guys will be without really having to do any leg work, maybe as an attempt to make them seem smarter and more omniscient, maybe even putting them above their white co-workers as police officers.

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