7.2/10
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37 user 28 critic

Bird (1988)

The troubled life and career of the jazz musician, Charlie "Bird" Parker.

Director:

Clint Eastwood

Writer:

Joel Oliansky

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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Forest Whitaker ... Charlie 'Bird' Parker
Diane Venora ... Chan Parker
Michael Zelniker ... Red Rodney
Samuel E. Wright ... Dizzy Gillespie
Keith David ... Buster Franklin
Michael McGuire ... Brewster
James Handy ... Esteves
Damon Whitaker ... Young Bird
Morgan Nagler ... Kim
Arlen Dean Snyder ... Dr. Heath
Sam Robards ... Moscowitz
Penelope Windust ... Bellevue Nurse
Glenn Wright Glenn Wright ... Alcoholic Patient (as Glenn T. Wright)
George Orrison George Orrison ... Patient with Checkers
Bill Cobbs ... Dr. Caulfield
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Storyline

Saxophone player Charlie Parker comes to New York in 1940. He is quickly noticed for his remarkable way of playing. He becomes a drug addict but his loving wife Chan tries to help him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

drugs | jazz | drug addict | 1940s | woman | See All (27) »

Taglines:

"There are no second acts in American lives." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 September 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Yardbird Suite See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,181,286
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Three of the four sound technicians who won the Best Sound Oscar were the sound designers on Heartbreak Ridge (1986) which had been nominated for the Best Sound two years earlier. See more »

Goofs

Charlie Parker died in March, but in the movie he is buried in autumn; dead leaves are on the road. See more »

Quotes

Chan Parker: [after seeing Charlie having a overdose] That was stupidity. Now I have to call an ambulance.
See more »


Soundtracks

Laura
Performed by Charlie Parker, Barry Harris (Piano), Chuck Berghofer (Bass),
John Guerin (Drums)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ornithology
10 May 2006 | by ecjones1951See all my reviews

"Bird" will probably be most appreciated by jazz fans who come to it already familiar with Charlie Parker and his incalculable contributions to jazz and influence on generations of musicians that continues to this day. The script contains many shorthand references that might be lost on the average moviegoer -- e.g., Parker calls Dizzy Gillespie "Birks," which was his middle name, but many people probably don't know that.

But there is the music, and tons of it. There are extraordinary performances by Forest Whitaker as Parker, and Diane Venora as his common law wife, Chan. In many ways the film seems more a love story than the standard musical biopic. Chan was unfailingly supportive of Bird, despite his self-destructive drug use, alcoholism and chronic infidelity. He loved her in his own way, and I think she realized that she was in love with a genius who would forever be plagued by demons, and that she couldn't have one without the other.

Clint Eastwood's love of jazz is well-known, and in "Bird" he provides a wealth of wonderful music, beautifully performed. The actual playing of Charlie Parker is augmented by accompaniment from contemporary musicians, and Parker has never sounded better. Eastwood also provides an unflinching portrayal of the complicated lives of jazz musicians, and the addictions to which so many succumb.

Despite the mess that Bird made of his life, he remains a charming and sympathetic figure. And his music, years ahead of its time, and so complex that countless fledging saxophone players have attempted to copy his recordings note for note, will forever live on.


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