Cotton Comes to Harlem is seen by certain critics as the first movie of the "blaxplotation" era of film in the 1970s. Two plainclothes policemen, Coffin Ed Johnson (Raymond St. Jacques) and Gravedigger Jones (Godfrey Cambridge), work the streets of Harlem. They catch the scent of a fraudulent preacher, Deke O'Malley (Calvin Lockhart), who is trying to swindle Harlem residents. The reverend is championing a "Back to Africa" movement and, of course, accepting donations. Before O'Malley can make his getaway, his money, which was hidden in a bale of cotton, is stolen. Coffin Ed and Gravedigger are on the trail, but so is the crooked preacher and some various Harlem hoods. Redd Foxx also appears as Uncle Bud, a junk dealer who holds the key to the location of the stolen money. The directorial debut of Ossie Davis, Cotton Comes to Harlem is witty and funny and sheds light on some of the issues that plague Harlem residents.