Based on the Chester Himes hard-boiled crime novel of the very same title, A Rage in Harlem appeared on film in cinemas in 1991. Under the cinematic direction of Bill Duke, the movie combines the acting talents of Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines, Danny Glover and Robin Givens. Due to its rare mixture of comedy, gun violence and graphic language, the film received an R rating and was dubbed somewhere between an action-comedy and a dark comedy by critics and reviewers.
Set in Harlem of the 1950's, A Rage in Harlem takes the viewer on a journey through a series of calamities that befall Jackson who cannot seem to outrun the troubles that follow both him and a trunk loaded full of stolen gold. Loaded down with the stolen gold all the way from Natchez, Mississippi, the sultry Imabelle ditches the trunk of gold on the unsuspecting Mark Jackson, an undertaker's assistant, with a gang of mobsters led by Slim hot on her heels from down south. While she has taken up residence with Jackson as a hiding place for her and the stolen gold, Imabelle is struck by the man's innocence as he falls head over heels for her beauty and misgivings of attraction.
When Slim's gang catches up with Imabelle, they take her captive and hope to discover the hiding place for the stolen gold. That is when Jackson enlists the help of his street savvy brother Goldy to rescue his kidnapped sweetheart. Goldy agrees to help his lovesick brother, but he also suspects Imabelle of being up to no good despite his brother's good intentions. With the gold in the picture, Slim and his mobsters, Imabelle and Goldy all want it for themselves, but Harlem detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones are on the case and on the hunt to reach the end of the trail of violence and mayhem that has recently struck Harlem's underworld.