Bird (1988)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music  |  30 September 1988 (USA)
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The troubled life and career of the jazz musician, Charlie "Bird" Parker.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chan Parker
Red Rodney
Buster Franklin
Young Bird
Dr. Heath
Bellevue Nurse
Glenn Wright ...
Alcoholic Patient (as Glenn T. Wright)
George Orrison ...
Patient with Checkers
Dr. Caulfield


Saxophone player Charlie Parker comes to New York in 1940. He is quickly noticed for his remarkable way of playing. He becomes a drug addict but his loving wife Chan tries to help him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"There are no second acts in American lives." - F. Scott Fitzgerald


Biography | Drama | Music


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 September 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Yardbird Suite  »

Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)


$2,181,286 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Bird (1988) was shot before Clint Eastwood's The Dead Pool (1988) but launched stateside after it. Bird (1988) was shot during the last quarter of 1987 before The Dead Pool (1988) filmed Feb-April 1988. Bird (1988) was not released in the USA until late September 1988 after The Dead Pool (1988) had debuted for the American Summer season in July 1988. See more »


At the Jewish wedding, the first shot of the orchestra shows both horns playing. But only the trumpet is heard, the saxophone joins later on. See more »


Chan Parker: Dizzy sent you a birthday card. Seems he's back in town. Do you owe him a phone call?
Charlie Parker: I owe Dizzy everything...except a phone call.
See more »


Referenced in The O'Reilly Factor: Episode dated 11 June 2008 (2008) See more »


Firebird Suite
Composed by Igor Stravinsky
Conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch
Performed by Wiener Symphoniker (as Vienna Symphony Orchestra)
Courtesy of Orfeo International Music GmbH
See more »

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User Reviews

Eastwood proves he's one of America's best directors. Simply brilliant.
15 November 2004 | by (Iowa) – See all my reviews

A dark and atmospheric biopic on jazz legend Charlie Parker, who with his fast improvisational style formed the sub-genre of bebop. Clint Eastwood directed this movie with a heart and passion that reflects back to his own love of the music which he has carried with him all his life and played a role in all his work. Eastwood himself actually was fortunate to have seen Charlie "Bird" Parker play in when he was alive. The film chronicles his life and has a tight focus on his self destructive behavior and the music itself. Bird explores the highs and lows of his journey. Playing to a sold out house in Paris, playing alongside Dizzy Gillespie, and earning a respect that few other musicians have matched. In contrast we see his heroine addiction, his suffering and depression resulting in several suicide attempts, the death of his daughter, and his wife's loving struggle to help save a man who's ill-fate was inevitable and irreversible.

Forest Whitaker plays Bird with a lot of heart and soul. Even though I have no idea if it was an accurate portrayal in capturing the man's nuances, Whitaker's interpretation was superlative. Equally as good was Diane Venora as Bird's wife, who found enough strength for the both of them and tried to hold the family together in an un-winnable battle. There's lots of rain, lots of dark nightclubs, lots of street lamps reflecting the soaked streets, and lots of feeling in this one. Having just watched another biopic, that one on Ray Charles, it's clear to see Eastwood's was the real deal, whereas Ray was merely decent.

Grade: A+

13 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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