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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:

Where crime lords rub elbows with the rich and famous! 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

Francis Ford Coppola's quasi-improvisational approach to directing the actors meant the script was in a constant state of flux, and actors would frequently spend all day on set without shooting a single frame of film. See more »

Goofs

When Dixie goes to ransom Frenchy there is a different amount of shaving cream on Mad Dog's face in every shot. See more »

Quotes

Owney: In the next room, gentlemen, is the finest food, drink and pussy in New York at a price.
See more »

Alternate Versions

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

Connections

Featured in The Making of 'Captain Eo' (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Creole Love Call
Words and Music by Duke Ellington
Vocals: Priscilla Baskerville
Trumpet Solo: Lew Soloff
Clarinet Solo: Bob Wilber
See more »

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User Reviews

A bold attempt to capture a fascinating era
25 February 1999 | by Jason-38See all my reviews

As a New Yorker who happens to be steeped in the lore of New York in the prohibition era, this film represents a bold attempt to capture the dynamics of the period. At times it succeeds. At other times it falls way short of the mark.

What I really admire is the fact that it deals with racial and ethnic friction honestly. The racial slurs in the dialog were part of the reality of that time. Relations between blacks and whites are not idealized. Richard Gere and Gregory Hines are neighbors and acquaintances, but are not portrayed as close friends. When Gregory Hines prevents Dutch Schultz (James Remar in a vivid characterization) from killing Richard Gere, he does it out of basic decency. Mercifully, there are none of the sentimental relationships between blacks and whites that seem so patently false in other films.

Gangland New York during the prohibition era has rarely been portrayed accurately. A worst case example was a 1991 disaster called Mobsters (a.k.a. "Young Tommy Guns"). The Cotton Club deals with real life chracters like Owney Madden (has he ever been portrayed in another film under his real name?), Big Frenchy DeMange, Arthur "Dutch Schultz" Flegenheimer, a Vincent Coll standin, Charlie ""Lucky" Luciano, "Trigger" Mike Coppola, and (at least in an early shooting script) Jack "Legs" Diamond. Richard Gere's character was loosely based on George Raft.

They were fascinating characters. At times, The Cotton Club tries to play fair with them. It almost succeeds.

On the whole, this should have been a better film. Personally, I would have preferred a film that focused on the real life gangsters with the music simply as background. The attempt to elevate the black characters to a position of equal importance in the narrative is the flaw that undoes the film. It's difficult to follow characters who have no power and little chance of gaining it. Obviously, that is not politically correct. However, I prefer for historical films to deal with life the way it really was, rather than the way some people think that it should have been.

All in all, an interesting and honorable failure.


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