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The Cotton Club (1984)

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The Cotton Club was a famous night club in Harlem. The story follows the people that visited the club, those that ran it, and is peppered with the Jazz music that made it so famous.


(as Francis Coppola)


(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Francis Coppola) | 4 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maurice Hines ...
Novella Nelson ...
Bumpy Rhodes (as Larry Fishburne)


The Cotton Club was a famous night club in Harlem. The story follows the people that visited the club, those that ran it, and is peppered with the Jazz music that made it so famous. Written by Colin Tinto <cst@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Welcome to The Cotton Club. Where Crime Lords rub elbows with the rich and famous. Where deals are made, lives are traded. And the legends of jazz light up the night. See more »


Crime | Drama | Music


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

14 December 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cotton Club  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$58,000,000 (estimated)


$25,900,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (video)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Dixie and his family leave the Cotton Club, two small black kids are dancing on the sidewalk for spare change. They are clearly intended to be The Nicholas Brothers, who began dancing at the Cotton Club soon after this. In fact, however, they were already established vaudeville performers in 1928. See more »


When Dixie goes to ransom Frenchy there is a different amount of shaving cream on Mad Dog's face in every shot. See more »


Dixie: I'm surprised at you! Don't you feel anything for Mr. Flynn at all? He's dead!
See more »


The Mooche
Music by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills
Trumpet Solo: Dave Brown
Clarinet and Alto Sax Solos: Bob Wilber
Temple Blocks and Gong: Chuck Riggs
See more »

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User Reviews

The Broadway version of 'The Godfather.'
2 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Cotton Club is a dazzling, complex film that attempts so much it would be almost impossible for nearly any director to pull it off. But Francis Ford Coppola is not any director, so The Cotton Club is not just any movie. Rather, it succeeds at practically all levels and is certainly a film worth coming back to again and again.

Set in Harlem in the late 1920s, we are introduced to a group of Jazz Age-products, people who see themselves exactly as they are but all hope to go somewhere better. Two story lines occupy the plot; we get a good-looking young musician Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere) who gets involved in the mob after falling for one of the gangster's girlfriends (Diane Lane) and we get the story of a very talented black dancer (Gregory Hines) trying to prove his love to a half-black and half-white chorus girl who seems to struggle with her place in this more or less racist society. Almost every night, everyone gathers at The Cotton Club, one of the most famous clubs in the city and the blacks entertain while the whites drink and watch. But Coppola gives us a view from all angles so it doesn't feel as if we are missing anything important.

One of the biggest achievements of this film is its staging of the dance sequences, which are to say the least quite exquisite. Filled with colorful costumes and some mind-boggling tap numbers, at times you may forget that this is also a gangster picture. Indeed, some scenes feel just like Coppola's The Godfather with its quick bursts of violence but also in its tone of sad, elegiac setting. People come and go and some regret the things they do, but the music lives on. The acting is also very strong as Gere and Lane are quite wonderful in their first of three films together. Both were very good-looking and they do bring out the best in each other. Two supporting actors that really do steal the show are Bob Hoskins and Fred Gwynne as a mob boss and his head bodyguard. They share a tenacity and ferociousness in their dealings, but also have one really terrific scene involving Gwynne coming to see Hoskins after being kidnapped. A young Nicolas Cage also shows here he had incredible potential.

This Broadway version of the gangster film so familiar in Hollywood refreshes both genres as we see the similarities between the two. Indeed, many of the participators in the entertainment were also involved in the mob and Coppola shows how the two lives intertwine and bring a lot of trouble to everyone. This may seem as a strange mixing of genres and story lines for some people, but it is well worth the two hours. It is funny, sad, violent, poetic but also enormously entertaining and isn't that what the movies are all about? Coppola seems to think so.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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This is an amazing movie! probably in my top10 Asur18
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