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The Five Heartbeats (1991)

R | | Drama, Music | 29 March 1991 (USA)
The story of the rise and fall of an African American vocal group.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Duck
...
Eddie
...
J.T.
...
Dresser
...
Choirboy
...
Eleanor Potter
Harold Nicholas ...
Sarge
...
Duck's Baby Sister
John Canada Terrell ...
Michael 'Flash' Turner
Chuck Patterson ...
Jimmy Potter
...
Big Red
...
Bird
...
Baby Doll (as Troy Beyer)
Carla Brothers ...
Tanya Sawyer
...
Rose
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Storyline

In the early 1960's, a quintet of hopeful young African American men form an amateur vocal group called The Five Heartbeats. After an initially rocky start, the group improve, turn pro, and rise to become a top flight music sensation. Along the way however, the guys learn many hard lessons about the reality of the music industry with it's casual racism and greed while the personal weaknesses of the members threaten to destroy the integrity of the band. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 March 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los Heartbeats  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$8,750,400 (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

Eddie Griffin's first film. See more »

Goofs

During the talent show, as Choir Boy is returning to the stage (after being booed off), both JT and Duck stop singing and momentarily turn to him. Although their lips have clearly stopped moving, the song continues (it wasn't Dresser and Eddie doing the chorus, since Dresser is singing bass and Eddie is doing lead). See more »

Quotes

Big Red: Tell Jimmy he can't hide.
See more »

Connections

References New American Bandstand 1965 (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time
Written by Thom Bell (as Thomas Bell) & William Hart
Performed by The Delfonics
Courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

Answer About Racism
18 September 2004 | by (Houston, TX) – See all my reviews

The movie was not intended to create an atmosphere of racism, but rather keep the movie in prospective given the era of it's setting. Many artist in those days were subjected to unfair treatment by the mainstream record labels in those days. Here are a few examples:

1. Frankie Lyman and The Teenagers were a group that was comprised of numerous ethnicities. One member of the group who Chris Montes (who was latino), was cut from the group by the label's producer because he was too ethnic. Chris Montes did later go on to record a few hits of his own such "Do You Want To Dance".

2. American Bandstand which first in 1952 played mostly Rock and Roll which, was pioneered and played by mostly black artist. However, it wasn't until 1957 that Johnny Nash, Jackie Wilson, and other African American singers performed on the show.

3. The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Dells, and many other such groups were restricted to playing all black venues during the 50's and early 60's in the south. This gave rise to would later become know as "The Chitterling Circuit", as the venues were mostly nightclubs, and juke-joints. These artist received harrassment from local law enforcement agencies, and townspeople on a regular basis whenever they came to the highly segregated south.

As far the scene where the record company brings a white group called The Four Horsemen, that's not really a stretch. Most of the time what would happen is that a black group would write or even release a song to the black audience, while the record company would have that same song "covered" by a white group to be released to the "mainstream" audience. The covered version of these songs were the ones that normally got air play from disc jockeys. The best example I can give of that is the 1955 hit by The Platters "Only You (And You Alone)". This song was released on Mercury Records, while one of their subsidiary labels Dot Records released a covered version of the same song by a group called The Hilltopper's who hailed from Western Kentucky College (all white school...segregation you know.) The Hilltopper's version of Only You hit number eight on the pop charts six weeks after the release of the Platters version. The Platters version however reached number on the R&B charts, and crossed over to the pop charts were it number five. A few months later in 1956 The Platters hit #1 on the pop charts with The Great Pretender, which was covered by Stan Freberg in the same year without the same success.

All of that is to say that the movie has its facts straight about what black artist went through in those days, but it's about much more than that. It's about the rise, fall, and resurrection of a talented group, and the proof that love and friendship can withstand all of life's ups and downs.


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