For James Cagney's Return, New York Throws An Old-Time Ragtime Premiere
updated 12/07/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 12/07/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST
On hand at $250 per (the affair benefited the Heart Association and Forman's film program at Columbia University) was another generation of actors: author Norman Mailer, for instance, who plays Stanford White in the film with surprising professionalism, and Elizabeth (Ordinary People) McGovern, who almost steals the picture as the nude and nubile showgirl, Evelyn Nesbit. Some Ragtime cast members who had filmed their scenes in the sprawling saga separately met for the first time at the party. While they danced to an oompah band, Cagney sat regally undisturbed, dining on sauerbraten, potato pancakes and strudel. He granted brief audiences to friends and to New York Mayor Ed Koch, who endorsed the film as "breathtaking." Then Hizzoner summed up the consensus of Cagney's constituency: The film was surefire Oscar material. Said Koch: "If they don't give you an award, I will."