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Cadillac Records (2008)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  5 December 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 14,589 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 90 user | 80 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

Chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 7 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joshua Alscher ...
Tim Bellow ...
Man in the Caddy (as Timothy Bellow)
Isabelle Allen
Douglas Crosby ...
Policeman (Little Walter beating)
Geneva's Teenage Son
Blonde Girl
Sean Shyboy Davis ...
Toothless Hillbilly Little Walter (as Sean Davis)


In this tale of sex, violence, race, and rock and roll in 1950s Chicago, "Cadillac Records" follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America's musical legends, including Muddy Waters, Leonard Chess, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James and Chuck Berry. Written by Sony Pictures

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


If you take the ride, you must pay the price. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

5 December 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cadillac Records - Csillogó fekete lemezek  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,445,559 (USA) (5 December 2008)


$8,134,217 (USA) (2 January 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Arranger Riley Hampton, who orchestrated all of Etta's Chess hits, including "At Last," is not mentioned anywhere in the film. See more »


In one of the "stock" black and white shots of 45's in a records store, part of the logo for the Electric Light Orchestra can be seen at the bottom right. See more »


Etta James: Don't be looking at me like I ain't got no draws on.
See more »


References New American Bandstand 1965 (1952) See more »


Once In A Lifetime
Performed by Beyoncé Knowles (as Beyoncé)
Written by Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Ghost, Scott McFarnon, Ian Dench,
James Dring, Jody Street
Published by B-Day Publishing / EMI April Music, Inc., Amanda Ghost Bucks Music Group Limited / EMI Blackwood Music,
Inc., Red Ink Music Limited, Ian Dench Music / Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing, Chrysalis Music
Courtesy of Columbia Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

GREAT Music, Flashy Nostalgia, Fascinating Cultural History

"Cadillac Records" is a fun, fast, flashy introduction to the world of Chess Records. In the 1950s, Leonard Chess, a Polish-born Jew in Chicago, along with his brother Phil (not seen in this film) produced "race" records by African American blues and rock and roll legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry and Etta James.

These artists' work had huge impact on popular music; the Rolling Stones are shown on a pilgrimage to Chess Studio. Their music is great and is played all but non-stop on the soundtrack, which is a very good thing. Flashy glimpses into the glamorous styles of the 1950s and 60s include loving looks at the many Cadillacs Chess gives as gifts to his star performers.

Jeffrey Wright is quietly compelling as Muddy Waters. Mos Def is a charming Chuck Berry; he really communicates the charisma that Berry exuded to his adoring female fans. Eamonn Walker is terrific, and appropriately intimidating, as Howlin' Wolf. Walker electrifies the screen with his every morsel of screen time; I wish that after they'd finished "Cadillac Records," they had just kept the sets up and kept the cameras running and began a biography of Howlin' Wolf with Walker in the lead. Beyonce Knowles is very beautiful and pays worthy tribute to Etta James, the singer she plays.

"Cadillac Records" feels a bit rushed, and not as deep and probing as it could have been. Perhaps much backstory was cut out? A shame, because Adrien Brody, a brilliant and compelling actor, is not given enough to do.

So much more could and should have been said about Chess the man and his motivations, and the complex relationship he had with his singers. There is the story that Chess put Muddy Waters to work painting his ceiling. Some accused him of paternalism; curious viewers are advised to pick up Nadine Cohodas' book "Spinning Blues into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records." Also, "Cadillac Records" can't avoid the clichés inherent in music biopics: the innocent character is introduced to drugs for the first time, and is ruined by them; the self destructiveness of brilliant people, the exhilarating, brutal, rags-to-riches-to-obscurity trajectory of show biz careers. For all that, "Cadillac Records" is fun and it makes you want to learn more about an important cultural moment in American history.

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