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Mo' Better Blues (1990)

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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

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

 »
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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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Halle Berry was considered to play Clarke Bentancourt, but turned it down after she found out the character had sex scenes. 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

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Sam and Max: Moai Better Blues (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Very Good, But Not On Par With Other Spike Work
26 October 2006 | by (Cincinnati, OH, United States) – See all my reviews

In Spike Lee's fourth film, Denzel Washington proves early in his career that he is capable of being funny and romantic in a more modest film than Glory or Cry Freedom, the music is breezy and romantic and consistent, jazzy and colorful cinematography, and another characteristic Spike Lee touch, which is his gift for drawing from his actors stunningly realistic performances. In some ensemble scenes, the dialogue seems like improvisation. Maybe it is.

Mo' Better Blues is a good, steady, effective drama, a portrait of a complex and overwrought musician and the indecision and jealousy that gradually eat away at his life, but it lacks the passion and brazen provocative nature of nearly all of Spike Lee's other films.

The cast, once again, is brilliant. Denzel is very very very authentic, faithful, graphic, and lifelike. My brother is a jazz musician and I've met several of his fellow musicians. I'm seasoned when it comes to jazz musicians. Take my word for it, Denzel's performance is entirely true. Snipes is brilliantly, swaggeringly audacious. Joie Lee comprehensively draws our sympathy towards her sensitive, self-conscious character and away from the elegant and subtly compelling Cynda Williams. Spike Lee himself is one of the most compelling characters. Samuel L. Jackson entertains in one of his millions and billions of early bit roles.

If I were to say, "I'm in the mood for a Spike Lee joint," this would not be one of the first films I pick, but it's different and enthralling. I mean, it's directed by Spike Lee, so how can it not be?


5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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