6.5/10
8,319
30 user 23 critic

Mo' Better Blues (1990)

Trailer
0:34 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Jazz trumpeter Bleek Gilliam makes questionable decisions in his professional and romantic lives.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Jungle Fever (1991)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Friends and family of a married black architect react in different ways to his affair with an Italian secretary.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Annabella Sciorra, Spike Lee
Crooklyn (1994)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

From Spike Lee comes this vibrant semi-autobiographical portrait of a school-teacher, her stubborn jazz-musician husband and their five kids living in '70s Brooklyn.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Alfre Woodard, Delroy Lindo, David Patrick Kelly
School Daze (1988)
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A not so popular young man wants to pledge to a popular fraternity at his historically black college.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, Tisha Campbell-Martin
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Story of a woman and her three lovers.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell
Clockers (1995)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Young drug pushers in the projects of Brooklyn live hard dangerous lives, trapped between their drug bosses and the detectives out to stop them.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Harvey Keitel, John Turturro, Delroy Lindo
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A disparate group of African-American men travel by bus to Washington, DC for the Million Man March.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Ossie Davis, Charles S. Dutton, Andre Braugher
He Got Game (1998)
Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A basketball player's father must try to convince him to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Denzel Washington, Milla Jovovich, Ray Allen
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An Indian family is expelled from Uganda when Idi Amin takes power. They move to Mississippi and time passes. The Indian daughter falls in love with a black man, and the respective families... See full summary »

Director: Mira Nair
Stars: Denzel Washington, Sarita Choudhury, Roshan Seth
Malcolm X (1992)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee
Bamboozled (2000)
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A frustrated African-American TV writer proposes a blackface minstrel show in protest, but to his chagrin it becomes a hit.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, Jada Pinkett Smith
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

When police officer Xavier Quinn's childhood friend, Maubee, becomes associated with murder and a briefcase full of ten thousand dollar bills, The Mighty Quinn must clear his name. Or try to catch him, which could be even trickier.

Director: Carl Schenkel
Stars: Denzel Washington, Robert Townsend, James Fox
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Shadow Henderson (Sax)
...
Left Hand Lacey (Piano)
...
Butterbean Jones
...
Indigo Downes
...
Bottom Hammer (Bass)
...
Moe Flatbush
...
Big Stop Williams
...
Clarke Bentancourt
...
Josh Flatbush
Jeff 'Tain' Watts ...
Rhythm Jones (Drums)
...
Madlock
...
Rod
...
Eggy (as Charles Q. Murphy)
Edit

Storyline

Opens with Bleek as a child learning to play the trumpet, his friends want him to come out and play but mother insists he finish his lessons. Bleek grows into adulthood and forms his own band - The Bleek Gilliam Quartet. The story of Bleek's and Shadow's friendly rivalry on stage which spills into their professional relationship and threatens to tear apart the quartet. Written by David <DGOWERS6@CHECLABA.SCU.EDU.AU>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

stage | friend | trumpet | jazz | comeback | See All (75) »

Taglines:

A Spike Lee joint.

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 August 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Love Supreme  »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$16,153,600 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Denzel Washington's trumpet sound is played by Terence Blanchard and Branford Marsalis plays the sax for Wesley Snipes. The music you hear in the movie when the actors are "playing" was performed by Branford's working band which was used for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992) when Jay Leno took over. See more »

Goofs

During the performance of Bleek's "Pop Top Urban 40 Funk Love ... Song", Bleek's headgear changes from hat to baseball cap. See more »

Quotes

Giant: Shut up! Who asked you, Left Hand?
Left Hand Lacey: Nobody asked me, man.
GiantBleek: [in unison] Then shut the fuck up!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Flavor Flave of the rap group Public Enemy spells out the letters in "Universal" as the studio logo appears on the screen. See more »


Soundtracks

Harlem Blues
Written and performed by Branford Marsalis Quartet and Terence Blanchard
Vocals by Cynda Williams
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Melodrama in Dullsville. Spike's sour note.
22 March 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Things get dull early an often in this in this mawkish jazz bio fiction written and directed by Spike Lee.

Bleek Gilliam (Denzell Washington) is a happenin' jazz trumpeter that fronts a quintet packing them in at Below the Underdog. His problems include an incompetent manager, a stage hogging sax player and two girlfriends that he's playing musical mattress with. The real love of his life though is his trumpet and his music. The band's manager, Giant, has a dangerous gambling problem and proves to be an ineffective negotiator with greedy club owners and would be best jettisoned but Bleek remains loyal for as long as possible. It will prove to his undoing as an artist but ironically contribute to his growth as a man.

As Bleek, Denzell Washington is all wrong as the ambitious trumpeter with a babe on each arm. He's too sweet a guy to be so self centered about his art, dispensing patience and love to those close to him with a low key remoteness. He simply lacks the fire. Wesley Snipes who plays Henderson the sax player would have been far more suited for the role but even he would have to mouth the flaccid throw away scribblings of Lee's torpid dialogue. As Giant, Lee hits the trifecta with an abysmal performance to match his writing and direction. Loosely attempting to mirror the grubby but sympathetic Ratso Rizzo to Bleek's Joe Buck he adopts a limp and even the "I'm walkin' here" moment from Midnight Cowboy. In this case you wish the taxi would run him over and be done with it.

Lee's script is all tepid argument, heavy handed ribbing and veiled insult with some requisite clumsy editorializing that Lee has to inject to remain down. The scenes between the band members backstage and in rehearsal lack spark and are only surpassed in dreariness by the Bleek, Giant conversations that have an ad lib look and go in circles. Completing this travesty is Lee's pretentious visual style. Tracking shots, zooms and pans are wasted and without significance to scenes. They just wander.

Blues is Lee's love letter to jazz (made implicit by the mountains of memorabilia plastered all over the sets) and it's all sentimental clap trap that lacks passion and verve. Jazz on film is better served by Tavernier's "Round Midnight" and Eastwood's "Bird" which get below the surface, reveal more sides of the form, the pain behind it in addition to offering infinitely superior lead performances by Forrest Whitaker and the real deal Dexter Gordon. This Spike Lee Joint doesn't even offer a mild buzz. It's some pretty bad homegrown.


5 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What the [bleep] is wrong with all these people on IMDB?!?! PopeyeTheSailor
Can Spike Lee give his characters real names for a change? mrstaples
Joie Lee? jizzayk1
Mo' Betta Blues Rules.. Sparrow-down-mockingbird-lane
Did the birth have to be quite so graphic? foxyblackchick
Fingering of trumpet alfredmcclinton
Discuss Mo' Better Blues (1990) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?