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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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4,545 ( 1,530)
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:

It was the jazz age. It was an era of elegance and violence. The action was gambling. The stakes were life and death. 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

Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist William Kennedy was brought in to do a quick draft on the script to polish it. He ended up doing over 20 drafts. 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

Sandman Williams: Baby, you may be passin' for white, but you ain't invisible.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Dream Studio (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

The Sheik of Araby
Lyrics by Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler
Music by Ted Snyder
See more »

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User Reviews

 
What A Mob...What A Show
15 October 2008 | by Bill SlocumSee all my reviews

Even Francis Ford Coppola couldn't sustain the height of movie-making he achieved in the 1970s. Raised too high by initial expectations, then dismissed too brusquely when the critics got to see it, "The Cotton Club" exists in a kind of neutral zone, a grand spectacle undone by sloppy scriptwriting and unappealing characters that nevertheless shows the master with some juice still in his cup.

It's the story of Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere), a cornet player who one evening in 1928 almost accidentally saves the life of notorious mob boss Dutch Schultz (James Remar). Dutch, already a fan of his music, is appreciative of the extra service and brings Dwyer into his circle, which brings him into contact with Dutch's girl Vera (Diane Lane).

"If I didn't like you, you'd be dead," is Dutch's way of expressing friendship.

"It's nice to be liked," Dixie replies.

The film is centered around the nightclub of the title, a fashionable Harlem nightspot where blacks are welcome only on stage, entertaining the white customers. Owney Madden (Bob Hoskins) runs things with an eye for keeping order, especially where the volatile Dutchman is concerned. Sandman Williams (Gregory Hines) just wants to dance into the arms of Lila Rose (Lonette McKee), who is torn between the chance for true love versus the chance to pass for white in a white man's world.

The stacked cast even includes Nicolas Cage as Dixie's mad-dog gangster brother and Laurence Fishburne in one of his first signature tough-guy roles. "The white man has left me nothing but the underworld, and that is where I dance," he tells Sandman. "Where do you dance?" All this crammed into just over two hours leaves very little room to breathe, for a director who mastered movies which do exactly that. But with little useful dialogue except of the expository kind, characters coming and going all the time, left-field plot twists (Dixie goes to Hollywood and becomes an instant star), and a central romance between Gere and Lane that is long on open-mouth kissing but short on story, you need spectacle to keep your attention.

Remar makes the film worthwhile for me. His bug-eyed tantrums as Dutch are what stay with me when the film is over, yet he shows range, too, shy with Vera, henpecked with his wife, and amiable with Dixie in his guarded way. It's hard not to worry what will happen when he learns about Dixie and Vera, not only for the lovebirds but for Dutch, too. I only wish Remar could have played Dutch in the latter film set in the same milieu, "Billy Bathgate"; Dustin Hoffman is a great actor but was wrong for that part. Remar here fits into it like a cement overshoe.

The film also boasts great music, including singing from McKee and tapping from Hines and his brother Maurice that raise the roof and recall the famous baptism scene in Coppola's first "Godfather". Larry Marshall does a great Cab Calloway, conked locks whipping across his forehead.

Nothing is really wrong with "Cotton Club". But what's right doesn't stay right for long, and the rest doesn't hold together. It's a fun show, so long as you don't mind being a bit confused when the curtain comes down.


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