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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Sheer joy to watch

Author: Ali Halai (
23 February 2000

Not only was this one of the most insightful biographical films I have ever seen, it was also a most poignant and revealing documentation of turn of the century social attitudes. This is truly a great film that I especially recommend to blues and rock and roll afficiandoes. Leadbelly in my opinion played a major part in the history of music and this movie plays a significant part towards documenting his story.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

one of the great movies ever

Author: riverrat-g-r from United States
6 December 2005

I've seen this movie 3 times and would like to know where I can buy a copy of it, either DVD or VHS. The movie itself is great, excellent acting and script ! A job well done Hollywood ! The movie shows the highlight and lowlights of Leadbelly's life and career with pretty decent accuracy . It came across very good on the screen. See if it you ever get a chance especially if you are a fan of southern blues music.

Roger Moseby carried this entire movie by himself aided by a pretty notable staff of other actors and actresses. He makes you feel like he actually was Huddie Ledbetter and that you are right there witnessing the events that unfold.

Again I ask, please let me know where and if I can buy either a VHS or DVD of Leadbelly and many thanks !

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Wonderfully evocative

Author: angelynx-2 from Washington DC, USA
1 July 2000

Marvellously atmospheric piece, loaded with great music, full of the air and vibe of blues legend Leadbelly's life and times. Color, energy, wonderful cinematography with washed-out colors suggesting heat and years of sun; truly great soundtrack. Every blues and rock fan should see it.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Good biography

Author: balformatted from Philadelphia PA
17 September 2003

Leadbelly isn't a great movie, but it does a good job of conveying a sense of the man, and the lead performance is very strong.

Director Parks doesn't quite carry off the sense of how alien a world the old segregated South was, and the movie has a bit too much of a this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened quality to it, rather than shaping Leadbelly's story to make a great movie.

But overall the movie is engaging, entertaining, and educational, and you get a sense of why he was such an influence on today's music. It's an enormous shame that the Weavers never credited him in "Wasn't that a time."

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: iguanagal from USA
11 June 2006

Truly outstanding performance by Roger Mosely as Leadbelly. A must-see for any music or blues fan. The film takes you back in time, shows the pain, suffering and hardship of the American Black experience, and the music that evolved from that suffering. Most interesting is the explanation for how Leadbelly got his nickname. The film is true to life and captures your attention right from the start - taking you right into Leadbelly's world - one not only filled with very hard times, but the best of American blues roots music. An outstanding biography with excellent acting, GREAT music - an all-in-all unforgettable biography.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Huddie Leadbetter, the development of Blues.

Author: rflack from U.S.A.
18 November 2001

I chanced seeing this documentary about a year or so ago purely by accident and found it to be an extraordinary piece of biographical work on the life of Huddie Ledbetter. The music was really well done and Roger Mosby did a superb job of playing the key role of Ledbetter. I was aware that Huddie Ledbetter had spent quite a bit of time in various jails or prisons and that experience had contributed to his music, but until I saw this movie I never really had a true appreciation of all he had gone through. I highly recommend this to anybody who wants to know what really happened to Huddie Ledbetter and his contributions to the development of Blues music in the United States.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Leadbelly film fans note great job by Art Evans as Blind Lemon

Author: AntonApple from United States
9 September 2006

This dramatization of the life of Leadbelly is greatly helped by having a SECOND great dalesman in the story, as his road buddy for a time, the historic recording artist BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON, played here by a sighted actor-musician, ART EVANS, in his first major role. Art has gone on to appear in a total of 85 roles in TV and the movies, according to his listing on IMDb (q.v.). Art, why don't you give IMDb a photo? Blind Lemon was a star in his day, recording "Please See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and "Matchbox Blues" among others in the late Nineteen Twenties, but died, homeless, in Chicago, one winter in the early Thirties. This movie is televised occasionally -- watch for it -- HINT: try Black History Month, February!

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"A song's got to fly free, like butterflies".

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
16 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For it's two hour run time, the film is an insightful if somewhat one-dimensional look at blues musician Huddie Leadbetter, nicely portrayed by Roger E. Mosley. I can't imagine what type of reception the picture would have attracted back in 1976, I was around back then and have never heard of the film until running across it on one of the cable channels recently. I would have been interested in seeing how Leadbelly's career progressed following the events portrayed in the picture since most of the story had to do with him getting in and out of prison for serious crimes, and there certainly had to be more to the man than what was revealed here. Aside from that, a nice draw for the movie is the music, a series of blues numbers interspersed throughout that add poignancy to the singer's troubled life. A few you'll recognize, like 'Cotton Fields Back Home', 'Rock Island Line' and 'Midnight Special', though the story doesn't reveal if Leadbelly originated any of the songs or merely sang them. Stuff like that I'd like to know.

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Leadbelly is a pretty good, if a little fictitious, account of Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter

Author: tavm from Baton Rouge, La.
13 February 2012

Just watched this musical biography directed by Gordon Parks on Netflix Streaming. Having read the bio on Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter on Wikipedia, I knew some characters and events were made up or exaggerated for dramatic proposes but knowing that, I highly enjoyed this movie and Roger E. Mosley's performance as the title character even though someone else did the singing. Great period atmosphere throughout. Oh, and I also recognized some songs like "Rock Island Line" and "Cotton Fields at Home" as those taught to me when I was in elementary school. Also wanted to cite fine supporting turns by Madge Sinclair as the brothel madam Miss Eula and Art Evans as fellow musician Blind Lemon Jefferson. So on that note, I highly recommend Leadbelly.

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