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Scott Joplin (1977)

Details the life story of Scott Joplin and how he became the greatest ragtime composer of all time.


Jeremy Kagan (as Jeremy Paul Kagan)

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1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Dee Williams ... Scott Joplin
Clifton Davis ... Chauvin
Margaret Avery ... Belle Joplin
Eubie Blake Eubie Blake ... Will Williams
Godfrey Cambridge ... Tom Turpin
Seymour Cassel ... Dr. Jaelki
Otis Day ... John The Baptist
Mabel King ... Madam Amy
Taj Mahal ... Poor Alfred
Spo-De-Odee Spo-De-Odee ... Left Hand of God
Art Carney ... John Stark
David Healy ... Sam Bundler
Samuel Fuller ... Impresario
Leon Charles Leon Charles ... Liebling
Fred Pinkard Fred Pinkard ... Dr. Adams


Details the life story of Scott Joplin and how he became the greatest ragtime composer of all time.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Scott Joplin's Ragtime Music Portrayed American Life.


Biography | Drama | Music








Release Date:

30 December 1977 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The only other composers mentioned as worthy equals in the film are John Philip Sousa and Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton. See more »


Scott Joplin: 'I got those old Monday blues, those hang-over Sunday blues... '
Chauvin: Jelly Roll Morton.
Scott Joplin: 'If it wasn't for my baby, I'd go crazy from all those wrong things I choose... '
Chauvin: You'd play that stuff. You'd play that stuff for the girls.
Scott Joplin: I sure remember him.
Chauvin: Yeah... 'Let me tell you about that gal of mine, together we seen some very hard times. But a shot of that old gin, my friend, would start us rolling again... '
Scott Joplin: [singing together] 'I don't mind those Monday blues, homes I got the cure, I can't lose. ...
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References The Sting (1973) See more »


Hangover Blues
Words & music by Harold Johnson
See more »

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User Reviews

A film that gets harder to watch as it progresses.
25 August 2013 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"Scott Joplin" is an unusual made for TV film in that it was, briefly, released in theaters just before it aired on TV. It stars Billy Dee Williams as the famed composer. It's also unusual for its choice of Joplin as a subject for the film because the guy died from syphilis (something folks RARELY talked about in 1977) and his later years were spent deteriorating more and more--a tough sort of film to put over to the viewing audience. However, the film DID find an audience and won a Writer's Guild award.

The film picks up with Joplin an adult and playing music in brothels. Soon he meets and befriends Louis Chauvin (Clifton David) and they come to the attention of a music publisher/promoter (Art Carney). For a while, things look great--Joplin marries and he achieves moderate success. But because of his syphilis (which was pretty much untreatable at that time) his career and marriage slowly spiraled downward. His final years were A LOT worse than they show in the movie and his decline lasted far longer--but regardless, he died young in a mental institution--committed due to his dementia.

If you think this movie is a giant downer, you are right. The first half is quite enjoyable and I loved the music. The second half was a chore to watch--and the music portion of the film suffered because Joplin was no longer functional. Well done but hard to watch.

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