Mo' Better Blues (1990)

R  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  3 August 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 7,903 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 23 critic

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



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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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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)
Eggy (as Charles Q. Murphy)


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) »


A Spike Lee joint.


Drama | Music | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 August 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Love Supreme  »

Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)


$16,153,600 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Usage of the film's original title: "A Love Supreme", was denied by Alice Coltrane, the widow of John Coltrane, the composer of the four-movement composition. See more »


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


Bleek: But the jazz, you know if we had to dep... if we had to depend upon black people to eat, we would starve to death. I mean, you've been out there, you're on the bandstand, you look out into the audience, what do you see? You see Japanese, you see, you see West Germans, you see, you know, Slabobic, anything except our people - it makes no sense. It incenses me that our own people don't realize our own heritage, our own culture, this is our music, man.
Shadow Henderson: That's bullshit.
Bleek: Why?
Shadow Henderson: [slurred] It's all ...
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 »


Referenced in Inside the Actors Studio: Episode #7.6 (2000) See more »


Pop Top 40
Written and performed by Branford Marsalis Quartet and Terence Blanchard
Vocals by Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes
See more »

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User Reviews

Spike Lee, ya got this one right!
4 December 1998 | by (Detroit, Michigan USA) – See all my reviews

One of Spike Lee's best, "Mo Better Blues" captures the atmosphere of jazz. The soundtrack flows with the acting like a song. Denzel Washington does a great job of portraying a jazzman's quest for perfection, while living in a "real world" full of problems. Being a musician myself, I appreciated the struggle Washington's character was going through. All of Spike Lee's trademark camera angles (which I've disliked in some of his movies) worked to perfection in this movie. Great music, good acting, and a solid plot. Recommend!

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

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