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Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)

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Reviews: 16 user | 7 critic

A documentary film about the life of pianist and jazz great Thelonious Monk. Features live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius.


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Title: Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)

Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Credited cast:
Jimmy Cleveland ...
Himself (trombonist, Thelonious Monk Octet)
Harry Colomby ...
Himself (personal manager)
John Coltrane ...
Ray Copeland ...
Himself (Thelonious Monk Octet: trumpet) (archive footage)
Nica De Koenigswarter ...
Tommy Flanagan ...
Himself (duo, piano performance)
Larry Gales ...
Himself (Thelonius Monk Quartet / Thelonious Monk Octet, bass player)
Johnny Griffin ...
Himself (Thelonious Monk Octet, tenor sax)
Barry Harris ...
Himself (duo, piano performance)
Bob Jones ...
Himself (road manager)
Teo Macero ...
Himself (Columbia Records producer)
Thelonious Monk Jr. ...
Nellie Monk ...
Thelonious Monk ...
Himself (archive footage)
Frank Paccione ...
Himself-Vocalist (singing voice)


A documentary film about the life of pianist and jazz great Thelonious Monk. Features live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius.

Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

genius | pianist | jazz | interview | europe | See more »






Release Date:

31 October 1990 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Straight, No Chaser  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$518,918 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of three 1988 Clint Eastwood movies. The films are Bird (1988), The Dead Pool (1988) and Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988). See more »


Thelonious Monk: [scribbles something on a piece of paper] Can you read that?
Nica De Koenigswarter: A beautiful message.
Thelonious Monk: If somebody can decipher that for you, you know, and say what it means, get what it means, it'll upset you. You'll flip, I mean flip for real!
See more »


Referenced in The Usual Suspects (1995) See more »


Written by Thelonious Monk
See more »

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User Reviews

This is a great movie and a great musician
13 July 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The film I will be reviewing is the documentary Thelonious Monk Straight No Chaser. This film is a documentary of the late Thelonious Monk born on October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, who moved to Manhattan, New York, at the age of four. Thelonious was an American jazz pianist and composer, widely considered one of jazz's biggest figures and the founder of bebop.

The interest in this move for me began the very first time I heard jazz. This was watching the movie Block Party with Dave Chappell. This movie shows a lot of black musicians and a little of what they do back stage. In some of the clips they show Dave Chappell playing with some of the musicians. In one clip in particular Dave is playing a piece from Thelonious Monk. Surprisingly it didn't occur to me that he was playing jazz from years ago because it went with contemporary music of the time. So I looked it up. What I found was a great heritage of music that is timeless which I would have never listened to, and that's what interested me in this documentary

Straight No Chaser starts with Monk's start as a musician and his hand in the start of bebop. This movie shows raw footage as Monk plays a popular song "Rhythm-a-ning." The movie is especially interesting because it is in black and white and give's it that classic fill that monk gives off when he is playing. The movie explains how in the beginning not many knew Monk, even though he helped create the bebop style. They go through how he gained his popularity and showed great behind the scene pictures and clips of Monk. This movie is the perfect film for anyone interested in jazz or just the innovation of music. It is honest and holds nothing back from the life of this great musician. It glorifies his ups just as well as his downs. It also allows us to see in the life of a musician who was mostly private with his affairs and that makes it all the more interesting. The end of this movie is great for anyone who loves not only jazz but music in the creative sense. It shows how music affects the lives of people and how great and eclectic this musician really was.

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