The troubled life and career of the jazz musician, Charlie "Bird" Parker.

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Cast

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

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

Plot Keywords:

drugs | jazz | drug addict | 1940s | woman | See All (27) »

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 September 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Yardbird Suite  »

Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$2,181,286 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The saxophone playing is original Charlie Parker performances. The body and fingering are by Charles McPherson, who had to learn to breathe exactly like Parker did in the recordings. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

References The Jack Benny Program (1950) See more »

Soundtracks

Ko Ko
Performed by Charlie Parker, Walter Davis, Jr. (Piano), Ron Carter (Bass),
John Guerin (Drums)
Courtesy of S. J. Records/Ed Chalpin PPX
See more »

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User Reviews

Cool Soundtrack! Overall good movie but, flawed.
9 August 2000 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

If you like Jazz you can't 'not like' this movie. If you like Noir you will dig the overall look of it. My only problem is that Eastwood concentrates more on presenting the tragic side of Charlie parker's life and so we get a very dark and somber film.

While we do get glimpses of Parker as 'musician', Forest Whitaker's, Parker as 'junkie', tends to weigh down the story. If Eastwood had to choose between highlighting the story of 'The greatest jazz musician of all time' or 'The premature death of a self-destructive Junkie', It's obvious which route he chose to take...the easiest one.

Ultimately it becomes more a movie about Parker's relationship with his wife Chan, and less about Parker's relationship with Jazz. In my opinion, Clint doesn't really succeed at showing us why we should love the character of Bird and maybe this was not his intention; but if a separation of the personality (warts and all) and his art is necessary to show an honest depiction; then why not also highlight the music and allow it to speak for itself? In this case, by making it a more satisfying listening experience like Formans "Amadeus" or Tavernier's "Round Midnight". The way they allowed the music be THE lead character of the movie.

Still, the improved fidelity in the remix of the soundtrack makes some of these old recordings easier digestible for those who may be new to Parker's music. Incidentally, this is the best fidelity of Charlie Parker you'll find anywhere. On the whole this is not a bad movie; It is not a complete depress-fest like two other movies about drug induced pop culture icons: 'The Doors' or 'Sid & Nancy'. Indeed this movie has its moments. There's a scene where Parker (blowing on his sax) wakes up Dizzy in the middle of the night to improvise on 'Now's the Time'. I also love the scene where he takes a gig with Red Rodney to play at a Jewish wedding. I wanted more of this type of interaction with his fellow Jazzers!


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