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The Cotton Club (1984)

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The Cotton Club was a famous night club in Harlem. The story follows the people who visited the club, those who ran it, and is peppered with the Jazz music that made it so famous.

Director:

Francis Ford Coppola (as Francis Coppola)

Writers:

William Kennedy (screenplay), Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay) (as Francis Coppola) | 4 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Gere ... Dixie Dwyer
Gregory Hines ... Sandman Williams
Diane Lane ... Vera Cicero
Lonette McKee ... Lila Rose Oliver
Bob Hoskins ... Owney Madden
James Remar ... Dutch Schultz
Nicolas Cage ... Vincent Dwyer
Allen Garfield ... Abbadabba Berman
Fred Gwynne ... Frenchy Demange
Gwen Verdon ... Tish Dwyer
Lisa Jane Persky ... Frances Flegenheimer
Maurice Hines ... Clay Williams
Julian Beck ... Sol Weinstein
Novella Nelson ... Madame St. Clair
Laurence Fishburne ... Bumpy Rhodes (as Larry Fishburne)
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Storyline

The Cotton Club was a famous night club in Harlem. The story follows the people who visited the club, those who ran it, and is peppered with the Jazz music that made it so famous. Written by Colin Tinto <cst@imdb.com> with corrections by BSmith

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Welcome to The Cotton Club. Where Crime Lords rub elbows with the rich and famous. Where deals are made, lives are traded. And the legends of jazz light up the night. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

14 December 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cotton Club Encore See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$58,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,903,603, 16 December 1984, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$25,928,721
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (video)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Enticed by a script by Mario Puzo and the promise of funding from Las Vegas casino-owning brothers Edward Doumani and Fred Doumani, Paramount offered producer Robert Evans the talents of Richard Gere as leading man and access to its studio facilities along with further production funds. However, determined to re-establish his reputation as a major player in Hollywood, Evans turned down the latter offer in favor of the services of Orion Pictures--which was in the business of marketing and distributing films rather than producing them, meaning that Evans would need to raise more production money and find a studio in which to shoot the film, causing further delays and adding to the already bloated budget. See more »

Goofs

During the montage song Ill Wind there is a shot of coins and bills being poured out. The dimes in the shot are Eisenhower dimes, a president in the 50's. See more »

Quotes

[a boy runs up to Dixie in the street]
Boy in Street: Vincent's been telling everyone around here that you saved the Dutchman's ass!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Stormy Weather
Words by Ted Koehler
Music by Harold Arlen
See more »

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User Reviews

 
All That Jazz
26 August 2007 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Part fictional and part non-fictional, this lavish two-hour Francis Ford Coppola film spotlights the Cotton Club, the legendary, real-life Harlem jazz nightclub that flourished in the Prohibition era of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Richard Gere plays Dixie Dwyer, a young musician who works for mobsters, in an effort to advance his career. Dwyer falls in love with Vera Cicero (Diane Lane), the girlfriend of gangster Dutch Schultz (James Remar). The Dwyer character is based loosely on real-life jazz trumpet player Bix Beiderbecke.

Throughout the film, various gangsters and bootleggers interact, sometimes violently, but much of the action centers around the Cotton Club, an establishment owned in real-life by Owney Madden, played in the film by actor Bob Hoskins. Madden would bring in Black performers to entertain a Whites-only clientèle, a truly racist policy, and a major plot point in the film's story.

The film's plot is somewhat muddled, the result of a less than stellar screenplay. And, as you would expect, the gangster characters are not terribly likable. But the film overcomes these script weaknesses with a captivating visual and musical style that is both tawdry and elegant. The corruption, the violence, and the implied sleaze are garish and tawdry to be sure. Yet, the Club's ambiance gushes with a certain elegance and glamour. It's a strange mix, but one that is entirely consistent with that era in U.S. history.

The film gets points from me for its lush, period piece costumes and production design, and adroit lighting, as well as all those jazz numbers, both sultry and flashy. Gregory Hines together with brother Maurice Hines provide some snappy tap dancing, some of which is improvised. Interestingly, their grandmother really did perform at the Cotton Club during its heyday. Also of interest in the film, viewers get to watch towering Fred Gwynne, who plays Frenchy, the oh-so-serious assistant to Owney Madden; the two of them engage in some interesting dialogue.

Although the script's story and characters are less than ideal, I enjoyed the film a lot, mostly as a result of the tawdry and elegant visual style combined with the lavish jazz numbers. If you're interested in gangster movies or the Prohibition era of American history, this film is a must-see.


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