Details the life story of Scott Joplin and how he became the greatest ragtime composer of all time.


(as Jeremy Paul Kagan)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Belle Joplin
Eubie Blake ...
Will Williams
Tom Turpin
Dr. Jaelki
Madam Amy
Poor Alfred
Spo-De-Odee ...
Left Hand of God
John Stark
David Healy ...
Sam Bundler
Leon Charles ...
Fred Pinkard ...
Dr. Adams


Details the life story of Scott Joplin and how he became the greatest ragtime composer of all time.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Scott Joplin's Ragtime Music Portrayed American Life.


Biography | Drama | Music






Release Date:

30 December 1977 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Originally a made-for-TV movie but was released to theaters first instead. See more »


Belle: I was remembering the time we said we'd marry. Does it embarass you so much to talk about it?
Scott Joplin: Ultimately, you'll see that I was wise not to talk about it.
Belle: You needn't stop talking altogether, you know. I've been made love to before. I know a lot about love. But it wasn't the same with them as it was with you. With you I felt soft and sorry inside. No matter how much you rejected me, I could stand it. Not anymore.
See more »


The Entertainer
written by Scott Joplin
performed by Dick Hyman
See more »

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User Reviews

A film that gets harder to watch as it progresses.
25 August 2013 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

"Scott Joplin" is an unusual made for TV film in that it was, briefly, released in theaters just before it aired on TV. It stars Billy Dee Williams as the famed composer. It's also unusual for its choice of Joplin as a subject for the film because the guy died from syphilis (something folks RARELY talked about in 1977) and his later years were spent deteriorating more and more--a tough sort of film to put over to the viewing audience. However, the film DID find an audience and won a Writer's Guild award.

The film picks up with Joplin an adult and playing music in brothels. Soon he meets and befriends Louis Chauvin (Clifton David) and they come to the attention of a music publisher/promoter (Art Carney). For a while, things look great--Joplin marries and he achieves moderate success. But because of his syphilis (which was pretty much untreatable at that time) his career and marriage slowly spiraled downward. His final years were A LOT worse than they show in the movie and his decline lasted far longer--but regardless, he died young in a mental institution--committed due to his dementia.

If you think this movie is a giant downer, you are right. The first half is quite enjoyable and I loved the music. The second half was a chore to watch--and the music portion of the film suffered because Joplin was no longer functional. Well done but hard to watch.

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