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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. Written by
Colin Tinto <email@example.com>
I saw this movie when it first came out and I thought it was a mess. Now years later while I have the luxury of sitting in my house watching the various showings on cable, I like a better. Why because this movie is IMO 3 different movies going on at once. I Now I am able to concentrate on one aspect of the movie more then the whole.
I will start with movie #1... The Cotton club, the nightclub where everything converges and what is the common denominator that brings ALL of the characters together. It is almost set up like a Plantation in Mississippi. The white gangster own the place and the black people work there and have no say about anything that goes on. Black people were not even able to go to the club as a customer. All of the women who worked there were light skin almost passing for white. In the movie they do show how the set up was but the place was no as large as it was in the movie and on a side bar. Larry Fishburn who plays a numbers runner (the same role he played in a later movie, Hoodlum) shows interest in a brown skin singer performer in the club and her mother is very upset because she is the first "dark skin" woman working at the club. I liked that they added that in. I know this because my neighbor use to play with Louis Armstrong that the women in question is in fact Louis Amstrongs future wife. A little tidbit. I like the music and the performances which took place in the club. To me this was the most enjoying part of the movie. I feel a movie just about the Club without all the other foolishness it would be very interesting in the right hands. Which brings me to movie 2
THe gangsters or the white people. Owey Madden was a thug and a very nasty man. In this movie Bob Hoskin (who was very good) and Fred Gwynn who I loved played like they were Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. In the right hands we would of seen the real Madden. Remember this is the man who kept black people out of his club. And did battle with other NY gangsters. Then we have Dutch Schultz. I wonder why we did not see more of Lucky Luciano because it was those 2 who were causing havoc in NYC during the 20's with Luciano winning. I think James Remer did the best portrayal of Schulz. Years later Tim Roth played him in the movie Hoodlum and he was good, but Remer was scarier. And according to all reports he was a psychopath. Then we have the George Raft(Dixie Dwyer) character played by Richard Gere If people are not familiar with the actor George Raft it was known he hung around the mob and had big time mob connections..who actually got him a job in movies. Richard Gere even mentions at one time that he use to be a dancer. I am sure that is reference and acknowledgment of George Raft, who was a dancer before he went to Hollywood. George Raft was actually a pretty good actor. Gere even looks like him. I feel that is the real reason they cast him in this movie. Look at this movie as Gere playing Raft and not playing Dixie Dwyer and the part works.
The last movie is the Harlem story. The Larry Fishburne character was a real person. He was lifetime criminal who spent most of his life in jail. He was not the voice of righteousness we see in the movie or the movie Hoodlum. What was interesting was the scene when he and the woman who was running the numbers racket in Harlem were offered a deal. I like they put that in the movie, that was true. The woman who was the real boss of the numbers racket came from the West Indies and started the whole thing on her own. A very tough cookie who went to jail because she would not give in to the mob. The mob was politically connected and they put her in jail for a long time. I like the the Hines bothers in the movie. They were feuding in real life and this movie was a way they starting talking again. They actually showed that in the movie. ALso the Vonnetta McGee character was interesting. I am a very light skin black women who could pas for white. WhICH I WOULD NEVER DO. But I don't know about living back in the early part of the century. The scene when she and Sandman goes to the hotel and the clerk tries to deny them a room actually happened to me and a boyfriend of mine years ago. So that scene really hit me. I would of liked if they explored Harlem life more, but the movie had too much going on already.
Nicholas Cage...nephew of Cappolla was good playing the violent brother of the Richard Gere character. I would like to have seen him in more parts like that instead of the garbage he has been wasting himself in the last few years. Diane Lane was the miscast. She was playing a real character too, but she came nowhere near the woman she was playing, Texas Guinon(I think that was her last name) A big boozy tough blonde. To me that is the major miscast of the movie. I like her though, but not in this movie. This is a movie I feel has to be seen around 5 times to get the whole feeling of it. A good movie but just too messy and too much.
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