Cotton Comes to Harlem is a 1970 blaxploitation film co-written and directed by Ossie Davis and starring Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques, and Redd Foxx: it is based on Chester Himes' novel of the same name. The opening theme, "Ain't Now But It's Gonna Be" was written by Ossie Davis and performed by Melba Moore.
Two Harlem detectives are assigned by the NYPD to recover $87,000 of poor black families life savings, which have been stolen in a Back to Africa swindle; the money is concealed in a bale of cotton, which keeps changing hands.
The detectives, Gravedigger Jones (Cambridge) and Coffin Ed Johnson (St. Jacques), are two black cops with a reputation for breaking the odd head. Both are annoyed at the success of the charismatic black nationalist leader Reverend Deke O'Malley (Lockhart) who is selling trips back to Africa to the poor on the installment plan. When O'Malley's truck is hijacked at a barbecue and a bale of cotton stuffed with money is lost in the chase, Harlem is turned upside down by Gravedigger and Coffin Ed, the Reverend, and the hijackers.
The film was one of the many black films that appeared in the 1970s and became an overnight hit. Davis parleyed both