IMDb > Mo' Better Blues (1990)
Mo' Better Blues
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Mo' Better Blues (1990) More at IMDbPro »

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Mo' Better Blues -- US Home Video Trailer from Universal


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Spike Lee (written by)
View company contact information for Mo' Better Blues on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 August 1990 (USA) See more »
A Spike Lee joint.
Jazz trumpeter Bleek Gilliam makes questionable decisions in his professional and romantic lives. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win & 3 nominations See more »
(16 articles)
Bill Nunn, Do The Right Thing's Radio Raheem, Has Died
 (From 24 September 2016, 1:45 PM, PDT)

Bill Nunn, Do The Right Thing's Radio Raheem, Has Died
 (From 24 September 2016, 1:45 PM, PDT)

The 50 Greatest Films by Black Directors
 (From FilmExperience. 1 June 2016, 9:00 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Spike's cool, modern poem to jazz See more (31 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Denzel Washington ... Bleek Gilliam

Spike Lee ... Giant

Wesley Snipes ... Shadow Henderson (Sax)

Giancarlo Esposito ... Left Hand Lacey (Piano)

Robin Harris ... Butterbean Jones

Joie Lee ... Indigo Downes

Bill Nunn ... Bottom Hammer (Bass)

John Turturro ... Moe Flatbush

Dick Anthony Williams ... Big Stop Williams

Cynda Williams ... Clarke Bentancourt

Nicholas Turturro ... Josh Flatbush
Jeff 'Tain' Watts ... Rhythm Jones (Drums)

Samuel L. Jackson ... Madlock

Leonard L. Thomas ... Rod

Charlie Murphy ... Eggy (as Charles Q. Murphy)

Steve White ... Born Knowledge

Rubén Blades ... Petey
Abbey Lincoln ... Lillian Gilliam
Linda Hawkins ... Jeanne
Raye Dowell ... Rita
Angela Hall ... Cora

Coati Mundi ... Roberto
Zakee Howze ... Young Bleek / Miles (as Zakee L. Howze)

Deon Richmond ... Tyrone

Raymond Anthony Thomas ... Joe (as Raymond Thomas)
Sheldon Turnipseed ... Benny
Christopher Skeffrey ... Louis
Terrence Williams ... Sam
Darryl M. Wonge Jr. ... Miles at Birth
Jelani Asar Snipes ... Miles, Age 1
Glenn Williams III ... Miles, Age 3
Arnold Cromer ... Miles, Age 5

Leon Addison Brown ... Smith
Scot Anthony Robinson ... Cooley
Herbert Daughtry ... Minister

Bill Lee ... Father of the Bride

Branford Marsalis ... Party Guest

Doug E. Doug ... Jimmy the Busboy (as Douglas Bourne)
Tracy Camilla Johns ... Club Patron
John Canada Terrell ... Club Patron
Monty Ross ... Club Patron
Carol M. Wiggins ... Club Patron
Isabella ... Club Patron

Mamie Louise Anderson ... Club Patron

Joe Seneca ... Big Stop's Friend

John Sobestanovich ... Taxi Driver

Flavor Flav ... Impatient Movie Patron
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Diahann Carroll ... Jazz Club Singer (uncredited)
Esther Castro ... Club restaurant audience (uncredited)
Anaysha Figueroa ... Shanika (uncredited)

Emma Terese ... Woman at the Jazz Club (uncredited)

Stephen Vause ... Club Patron (uncredited)

Directed by
Spike Lee 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Spike Lee  written by

Produced by
Jon Kilik .... line producer
Spike Lee .... producer
Monty Ross .... co-producer
Original Music by
Bill Lee 
Cinematography by
Ernest R. Dickerson  (as Ernest Dickerson)
Film Editing by
Samuel D. Pollard  (as Sam Pollard)
Casting by
Robi Reed 
Production Design by
Wynn Thomas 
Set Decoration by
Ted Glass 
Costume Design by
Ruth E. Carter  (as Ruth Carter)
Makeup Department
Matiki Anoff .... makeup artist
Clifford Booker .... hair stylist: women
Tom Brumberger .... special makeup effects artist
Larry M. Cherry .... hair stylist: men (as Larry Cherry)
Debbie Deas .... additional makeup artist
Marjorie Durand .... key makeup artist (as Margie Durand)
Production Management
Preston L. Holmes .... production supervisor (as Preston Holmes)
Brent Owens .... unit manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
H.H. Cooper .... second assistant director
Randy Fletcher .... first assistant director
Dale M. Nielsen .... second second assistant director
Dale Pierce-Johnson .... second assistant director
Art Department
Jane Asch .... camera scenic artist
Wilbur L. Ball .... apprentice scenic
Jeff Balsmeyer .... storyboard artist
Martin Bernstein .... construction coordinator
Nancy Boytos-Amanuel .... set dresser (as Nancy Boytos)
Joan Brockschmidt .... second dresser (as Joan Brocksmidt)
Marcia Brown .... art department production assistant
Kimberly Buckley .... assistant to the set decorator (as Kimberley Ann Buckley)
William Butler .... set dresser (as Bill Butler)
Mary Citarella .... scenic artist
Rodney Clark .... set builder
Michael Curry Jr. .... set builder (as Mike Curry Jr.)
Sara D'Alessandro .... scenic sculptor (as Sara D'Allesandro)
Eva P. Davy .... scenic artist (as Eva Davy)
Ellen Doak .... scenic artist
Judith Evans .... scenic artist (as Judith A. Evans)
James Geyer .... scenic shopman
Jeffrey L. Glave .... scenic chargeman
Carmen Griffin .... shop production assistant
John Grimolizzi .... set builder
Bruce Lee Gross .... lead man
Harold Horn .... set builder
Gary Jennings .... scenic artist
Joyce Kubalak-Szafilita .... scenic artist (as Joyce Kubalak)
Kevin Ladson .... first assistant props
Michael Leather .... set dresser
Virginia Lim .... scenic artist
Timothy Main .... set builder (as Tim Main)
Charles McClennahan .... assistant art director
Philip Michelson .... second assistant props
Octavio Molina .... property master
Ken Nelson .... key set builder
Carl Prinzi .... key construction grip
Michael T. Roberts .... assistant art director
Rosalie Russino .... scenic shopwoman (as Rosalle Russino)
Sherryl Sachs .... scenic artist
Mark Paul Selemon .... set dresser (as Mark Selemon)
Charlene Shildmyer .... scenic artist (as Charlene Shildmeyer)
Salvatore Sirico .... set builder (as Sal Sirico)
Pam Stephens .... art department coordinator
Peter Swaine .... construction production assistant (as Peter Swain)
Paul Wardwell .... construction grip
Robert Woods Jr. .... construction grip
Sound Department
Abdul Malik Abbott .... cable person (as Abdul Abbott)
Marko A. Costanzo .... foley artist (as Marko Costanzo)
Pam DeMetruis-Thomas .... adr editor (as Pam Demetrius)
Kay Denmark .... adr boom operator
William Docker .... assistant sound editor (as Bill Docker)
Stephen Fitzstephens .... sound
Tom Fleischman .... re-recording mixer
Rosa Howell-Thornhill .... sound production assistant
Brian Johnson .... assistant sound editor
Frank Kern .... foley editor
Kevin Lee .... sound editor
Skip Lievsay .... sound designer
Jann McClary .... apprentice sound editor
Bruce Pross .... foley editor
Andrew Schmetterling .... boom operator
Gail Showalter .... adr editor
Greg Speed .... assistant sound editor (as Gregory L. Speed)
Frank Stettner .... sound recordist
Philip Stockton .... sound editor
Steven Visscher .... foley editor
Special Effects by
Michael L. Benson .... special effects (as Michael Benson)
Tom Newton .... special effects coordinator
Will Scheck .... special effects
Chris Skutch .... special effects
Visual Effects by
Don Canfield .... motion control operator: title sequences
Andy Hudson .... visual effects
Roy Farfel .... utility stunts
David S. Lomax .... utility stunts (as David Lomax)
Elliot Santiago .... utility stunts
Jeff Ward .... stunt coordinator
Camera and Electrical Department
Henry Adebonojo .... second assistant camera
Stuart Allen .... crane technician: Louma crane
Robert M. Andres .... key grip (as Bob Andres)
Martin Andrews .... pre-rigging gaffer
Jonathan Burkhart .... first assistant camera
Beverly Cable .... electric trainee
Ted Churchill .... Steadicam operator
Myra-Lee Cohen .... additional second assistant camera
Val DeSalvo .... best boy electric (as Valerie Desalvo)
Christian Epps .... dimmer board operator
Daniel Finn .... additional grip (as Dan Finn)
Bob Gorelick .... Steadicam operator
Andy Harris .... second assistant camera (as Andrew Harris)
Charles Houston .... gaffer
Pamela Katz .... first assistant camera (as Pam Katz)
Tom Kudlek .... dolly grip
David Lee .... still photographer
Larry McConkey .... Steadicam operator
Derek McKane .... additional electrician
John Mitchell .... electrician
John Newby .... camera operator
Ed Newins Jr. .... grip
David Noble .... additional grip
John O'Malley .... electrician
Phil Oetiker .... additional camera operator (as Phil Oeticker)
George Pattison .... additional camera operator
Carl Peterson .... grip
Floyd A.B. Rance III .... camera trainee
Nate Ranger .... assistant camera
Paul Reuter .... additional second assistant camera
Keith Salkowski .... electrician
Leslie Saltus-Evans .... camera trainee (as Leslie Saltus)
Susan Starr .... additional first assistant camera
Lois Thompson .... grip trainee
Joan Zierler .... additional first assistant camera
Casting Department
Paulette D. Clark .... casting assistant (as Paulette Clark)
David H. Kramer .... adr voice casting
Andrea Reed .... extras casting
Tracy Vilar .... extras casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Donna Berwick .... assistant to costume designer
Lisa R. Frucht .... wardrobe assistant (as Lisa Frucht)
Beulah Jones-Black .... assistant to costume designer
Jennifer Lax .... wardrobe assistant
Rita McGhee .... wardrobe production assistant
Susie Money .... wardrobe supervisor
Janinea Shelton .... wardrobe production assistant
Miriam Wong Tsao .... wardrobe assistant (as Miriam Wong)
Editorial Department
Donna Myers-Rambharose .... apprentice editor
Leander T. Sales .... assistant editor
Brunilda Torres .... first assistant editor
Dave Pultz .... color timer (uncredited)
Location Management
Bil Haley-Freeman .... assistant location manager
Eric Klein .... location assistant (as Eric Barry Klein)
Brent Owens .... location manager
Dale Watkins .... assistant location manager (as Dale T. Watkins)
Music Department
Abdul Malik Abbott .... music playback
Vince Caro .... assistant scoring engineer
Stephen Fitzstephens .... music engineer
James Flatto .... assistant music editor
Alex Steyermark .... music editor
Terence Blanchard .... composer: special music (uncredited)
Jennie Hansen .... musician: viola (uncredited)
Transportation Department
William K. Gaskins .... driver (as Willi Gaskins)
Charlie Hoffman .... driver
Harry J. Leavey .... driver (as Harry Leavey)
James Leavey .... transportation captain
Tom Newins .... driver
Martin Whitfield .... driver
Other crew
Shannon Amos .... production coordinator
Randall Balsmeyer .... title designer
Alysse Bezahler .... assistant production office coordinator
Terence Blanchard .... technical consultant
Wanda Brooks .... intern
Yolanda Busbee .... production assistant: 40 Acres
Jeffrey W. Byrd .... intern (as Jeffrey Byrd)
Shari L. Carpenter .... office production assistant
Melvin Tyrone Clarke .... intern
Eric Daniel .... set production assistant
Lee Davis .... craft service
Lyle Dickey .... intern
Mike Ellis .... set production assistant (as Michael Ellis)
Michael Fleming .... technical consultant
Susan D. Fowler .... production coordinator: Forty Acres
Michael Gaynor .... dailies projectionist
Brian Harris .... parking production assistant
Donald Harrison .... technical consultant
Van Hayden .... craft service (as Van A. Hayden)
Patricia Ann Holmes .... assistant auditor (as Patricia Holmes)
Anthony L. Jamison .... apprentice
Debra D. Jeffreys .... production office coordinator
Desirée Jellerette .... production secretary
Kristen M. Johnson .... intern
Damon Jones .... intern
Janice Kambara .... intern
Erik Barry Klein .... parking coordinator
Erik Knight .... set production assistant
Bill Lee .... technical consultant
Cinqué Lee .... video archivist
Leticia Lee .... assistant auditor
Palesa Ka Letlaka .... intern
Sam Longoria .... publicity assistant: Universal
Karen Mason .... intern
Tiffany McLinn Lore .... intern (as Tiffany McClinn)
Larry Mims .... assistant: Mr. Washington
Ayesha Morales .... intern
Robert Nickson .... production controller
Fred Nielson .... set production assistant (as Fred Nielsen)
Eric Oden .... auditor
Daryl Patterson .... craft service
Thomas Patrick Petrilla .... production assistant
Traci Proctor .... office production assistant
Kia B. Puriefoy .... set production assistant (as Kia Puriefoy)
Simona Ross .... intern
Amada R. Sandoval .... intern
Jean-Andre Sassine .... parking production assistant
Winsome Sinclair .... intern (as Winsome GM Sinclair)
Audra C. Smith .... production assistant: 40 Acres (as Audra Smith)
Earl Smith .... assistant: Mr. Lee
Kevin A. Smith .... intern
Anna C. Southall .... unit publicist (as Anna Southall)
Susan Stuart .... intern
Doug G. Watson .... set production assistant (as Doug Watson)
Daniel Wheatcroft .... studio executive
Latanya White .... intern
Harold R. Williams Jr. .... assistant dailies projectionist (as Harold Williams)
Nike Zachmanoglou .... continuity
Nike Zachmanoglou .... script supervisor
Coati Mundi .... adr voice (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
129 min | USA:130 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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 »
Continuity: During the performance of Bleek's "Pop Top Urban 40 Funk Love ... Song", Bleek's headgear changes from hat to baseball cap.See more »
Clarke:'Cause mo better makes it mo better.See more »
Movie Connections:
Harlem BluesSee more »


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21 out of 24 people found the following review useful.
Spike's cool, modern poem to jazz, 3 November 2000
Author: JawsOfJosh from Chicago

After the commercial and critical success of "Do The Right Thing," in which Lee announced his arrival as a major player, he choose to follow up his breakthrough with a more personal film. If you examine history, it seems all iconoclasts choose to do so after their first big success ("The Conversation," "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind," "Talk Radio"), and Lee decided to pay homage to what he's always referred to simply as "the music." Set in then-present day 1990, "Mo' Better Blues" tells the tale of Denzel Washington as Bleek Gilliam, a selfish trumpeter who fronts his own jazz quintet in an upscale Brooklyn club. The strength of the film deals with Bleek juggling his loyalties. On the love side, Bleek is caught between two women; Clarke is a sexy bombshell in constant need of Bleek's attention who's too busy centering in on his music. She's also an aspiring singer hoping Bleek will give her a chance to shine. Bleek, obviously, does not want to share the spotlight. Indigo is a thoughtful schoolteacher who is not fragile with Bleek's tremendous ego but is careful with his somewhat callous heart. At work, Bleek is wrestling with a hungry band demanding pay raises given the success they're achieving at the "Beneath The Underdog" club. Clumsily working towards the band's raise is Giant, Bleek's lifelong friend and incompetent manager, who also has a considerable gambling problem. Bleek must decide whether to trust Giant or risk losing his band, while deciding how long he can keep up the game between Indigo and Clarke.

This, simply, is one of my favorite Lee films. Thank God someone finally made a jazz film for the late 20th century, jazz had not received a proper modern makeover since 1961's "Paris Blues." Lee creates a wonderful, intimate world set off by moody lighting in shades of red, yellow and blue. His camera and editing - which was spontaneous and lively in "Do The Right Thing" - is slow and deliberate here, carefully punctuated in all the right places. This film marked the debut of some of Lee's trademark camera moves, including the 'gliding sidewalk' dolly and his slow-spin-upward pans.

Like his previous films, Lee is adept and balancing out scenes between comedy and drama. A lot of the 'band' scenes are engagingly funny, mostly guy talk with a spin of that "cool daddy jazz vibe" added. Lee is also skillful at making Bleek the antagonist of the film without rendering him completely unlikable. The "Love Supreme" montage ending seemed to stretch the film for longer than some would have liked, but I feel it was justified in order to illustrate the beauty and necessity of Bleek's redemption. Lee was also smart to reduce screen time given to the film's true protagonist, saxophonist Shadow Henderson (rendered with cool, suave sophistication by Wesley Snipes), in order to keep the audience focused on Bleek. You will also get a delicious sampling of great jazz in this film if you're a novice to such. Aside from the concert numbers written and performed by Branford Marsalis and the dreamy jazz score by Lee's father, Bill, there are great pieces by John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, among others. A cool, sexy film.

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