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?


The first Eastwood directed picture to receive significant awards. It won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and two awards at Cannes. See more »


When Bird is dictates the telegram to be sent to Chan, it's printed as he speaks. He says "Forgive me for not being in the hospital with you," but the telegram reads "Forgive me for not being there with you while you were at the hospital." See more »


Doctor at Nica's: [while Bird's body is being retired] Charles Christopher Parker, Junior. Preliminary diagnosis: heart attack. Stocky, male, negro. Approximately 65 years of age.
Baroness Nica: [with a sad look] He was 34.
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References The Jack Benny Program (1950) See more »


Parker's Mood
Performed by King Pleasure, John Lewis, Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke
Courtesy of Fantasy Inc.
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User Reviews

A sincere but disappointing tribute to Charlie Parker

Clint Eastwood's reputation as a serious filmmaker was given a considerable boost with this lengthy biography of jazz legend, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, who Eastwood, a jazz aficionado, saw perform in Oakland, California in 1946. For this labor of love, Eastwood assembled an excellent cast including Forest Whitaker as Parker, Diane Venora--flawless as Bird's woman, Chan Parker--and, in a small role of one of the musician's flirtations, Ana Thompson (the "cut whore" from "Unforgiven"). With the aid of cinematographer Jack N. Green, Eastwood captures the neon burnished lights and darks of the night world Parker inhabited, and the music, featuring genuine Parker solos augmented by modern musicians, can't be faulted, but despite its merits, this "Bird" never takes flight. It is long--too long--and the story it tells, though certainly dramatic in its bleak and uncompromising portrait of an artist whose music was often overshadowed by his drug addiction, weighs down too heavily on the latter than the former. Why is Charlie Parker so important? That question isn't answered here, but another question--why was Charlie Parker dead at 34?--is addressed and answered at length. There is potential on view here--Parker's struggle to survive as a musician in a culture that is more appreciative of rock and roll than of jazz is a minor thread that could have been expanded--but much of it is unrealized. "Bird" is a handsome film, but its craftsmanship and artistry is defeated by the script.

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