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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 »
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Popularity
2,123 ( 482)
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:

Tough Customers 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

Gross USA:

$25,928,721

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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

Richard Sylbert claimed that he told Robert Evans not to hire Francis Ford Coppola because "he resents being in the commercial, narrative, Hollywood movie business". Coppola claimed that he had letters from Sylbert that asked him to work on the film because Evans was crazy. The director also said that "Evans set the tone for the level of extravagance long before I got there". 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

Flynn: Blow that bughouse bastard to kingdom come!
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the original version, the opening credits were intercut with dancers performing "The Mooche." In the 2019 revision, the dancing is eliminated and the credits roll straight through, but have been joined with straight cuts rather than dissolves. Additionally, Coppola has changed his billing from "Francis Coppola" to "Francis Ford Coppola." Finally, restoration credits have been added after the end titles. See more »

Alternate Versions

It seems that the first murder is a bit shortened in the German Constantin Video release (FSK 16). See more »


Soundtracks

Bandana Babies
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Performed by Ethel Beatty
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"That's how they live in this world. Maybe one day you'll wise up, sap"
8 May 2009 | by ackstasisSee all my reviews

One gets the sense that 'The Cotton Club (1984)' will improve upon repeat viewings, once you've become accustomed to what director Francis Ford Coppola was attempting. After all, this is a gangster film from the man who brought us 'The Godfather (1972)' and its sequels – what else could we expect but another Corleone saga? The film we're delivered is nothing of the sort, a testament to the director's constant willingness to take risks and experiment with new ideas. Indeed, rather than trying to emulate Coppola's former successes, 'The Cotton Club' could more accurately be described as a "gangster musical," a realisation that took me until the film's second half. Do those two genres even go together? Perhaps taking inspiration from Herbert Ross' 'Pennies from Heaven (1981)' – and the mini-series on which it was based – the film blends the ugly brutality and corruption of the Prohibition- era with the dazzling bright lights of the Cotton Club, Harlem's premiere night club. It is this deliberate but uneasy juxtaposition of reality and fantasy that fuels Coppola's vision, an ambitious undertaking without a dominant focus.

The film's major storyline concerns Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere), a comparatively ordinary jazz musician who unexpectedly finds himself associating with organised crime boss "Dutch" Schultz (James Remar). Dixie is interesting because, unlike your typical hero consumed by the allure of amoral riches, he always remains peripheral to the world of gangsters; he observes, with disapproval, its dishonesty and depravity, but rarely finds himself a part of it. In fact, the closest he ever comes to being a gangster is in Hollywood, where he shares the sort of film roles that made James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson famous. Coppola might have been offering a commentary on the inherently romanticised version of reality offered by the movies, but his "real world" of gangsters is scarcely less stylised. The seedy underbelly of organised crime is paradoxically depicted as taking place in the classiest locales in Harlem, where the crime bosses consume the best alcohol and mix with Hollywood's elite talent (Chaplin, Swanson and Cagney among the featured patrons).

Proving further that Coppola wasn't attempting to replicate his Corleone saga, 'The Cotton Club' also features a rather extraneous subplot with Maurice and Gregory Hines as African-American tap-dancers vying for the "big-time" at the Cotton Club, where (in a bizarre discriminatory switch) only black performers are hired. The regular cross-cutting between this story and Dixie Dwyer's doesn't quite work, and, in any case, the taut romance between Dwyer and tough-girl Vera (an absolutely gorgeous Diane Lane) is much more involving than that between Sandman Williams (Gregory Hines) and mixed-race dancer Lila (Lonette McKee). Among the film's impressive supporting performers are Bob Hoskins and Fred Gwynne as crime associates, Nicholas Cage as an overly-ambitious young thug, Laurence Fishburne as black crime boss Bumpy Rhodes, and James Remar, playing a sleazier and less identifiable version of Dutch Schultz to Dustin Hoffman in 'Billy Bathgate (1991).' The premiere gangster film of 1984 was Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in America (1984),' but, despite being runner-up, nobody can accuse Coppola of playing it safe.


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