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1950. Rural Alabama. Cotton harvest. It's a make-or-break weekend for the Honeydripper Lounge and its owner, piano player Tyrone "Pine Top" Purvis. Deep in debt to the liquor man, the chicken man, and the landlord, Tyrone is desperate to lure the young cotton pickers and local Army base recruits into his juke joint, away from Touissant's, the rival joint across the way. His plan to hire a guitar legend go awry and Tyrone is forced to take drastic action in a final scheme to save the club. Written by
John Sayles, never one to avoid a political focus in movies, now brings us "Honeydripper". The movie is set in 1950 Alabama. The Jim Crow laws are still in effect, and black-white relations are limited to African-Americans performing only the most menial jobs: a number of people work in a cotton field for practically nothing (slavery has risen again!). Tyrone "Pinetop" Purvis (Danny Glover) owns a restaurant and often has singers come and play. Business hasn't been doing too well recently. Pinetop has worked hard his whole life and barely gotten by...but the possible arrival of a New Orleans singer might change things.
Aside from the great music, one can also see this movie as a look at the pivot era in the South. It's set during the Jim Crow era, around the start of the Korean War, just a few years away from the civil rights movement. One notices that even though this is still the age of institutionalized racism, many of the characters do what they can to try and have civil relationships with white people: Sheriff Pugh (Stacy Keach) is on pretty good terms with Pinetop, and Pinetop's wife Delilah (Lisa Gay Hamilton) manages to carry on a conversation with her employer (Mary Steenburgen). The music, of course, is really the best part. I certainly recommend this movie, as I have recommended every John Sayles movie that I've seen.
Also starring Yaya DaCosta, Charles S. Dutton, Vondie Curtis Hall, Keb' Mo', Kel Mitchell and Gary Clark Jr. I think that I saw John Sayles in a bit part.
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