The troubled life and career of jazz musician Charlie "Bird" Parker (Forest Whitaker).

Director:

Clint Eastwood

Writer:

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

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Photos

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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
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 "Bird" Parker (Forest Whitaker) comes to New York City in 1940. He is quickly noticed for his remarkable way of playing. He becomes a drug addict, but his loving wife Chan (Diane Venora) tries to help him.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The saxophone playing is original Charlie Parker performances. The body and fingering are by Charles McPherson, who had to learn to breathe exactly like Parker did in the recordings. See more »

Goofs

At the Jewish wedding, the first shot of the orchestra shows both horns playing, but only the trumpet is heard. The saxophone joins later on. See more »

Quotes

Dizzy Gillespie: Here we are. Brothers. I'm a reformer, you trying to be a martyr. They always remember the martyrs longer. They gonna talk about you when you're dead, Bird. More than they do now. They gonna shovel you under like they love to do. They gonna talk about you. My secret. My secret is, if they kill me - it won't be because I helped them.
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Crazy Credits

Pre-titles card: "There are no second acts in American lives." - F. Scott Fitzgerald See more »

Connections

References The Jack Benny Program (1950) See more »

Soundtracks

Cool Blues
Performed by Charlie Parker, Walter Davis, Jr. (Piano), Ron Carter (Bass),
John Guerin (Drums)
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User Reviews

 
Not Jazzy Enough
1 June 2007 | by aerslifeSee all my reviews

I feel as though the film did not do justice to the musically phenomenal life "Bird" went through. He was one of the most influential Jazz musicians crating an entire style of music. Which i felt was not portrayed fully. As one of the comments i've heard before stated "it seemed they had a choice between Charlie Parker as a musical genius or Charlie Parker as a junkie and they chose junkie."

I felt as though the musicians playing the bird solo's did a bad job reflecting his "sound." As in Charlie Parker had a sound that filled up an entire room with complicated be-bop phrasings and with a blues background. While the musicians just had him playing fast notes most of the time which was sometimes difficult to hear over back ground noise, very "unbird like".

However i did enjoy moments of the film, that showed even Charlie Parker had to play some weird gigs.

My last point is that it felt as though Chan Parker was portrayed as a stable part of bird's life, and was one of the central idea's of the film. As in the love story between him and his wife, with a love hate relationship. Which i think could have been less focused on and centralized more around Charlie Parkers music.

i do understand that Chan actually helped the script writer to write the film so it may have been a somewhat biased perspective.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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)

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,116, 2 October 1988

Gross USA:

$2,181,286

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,181,286
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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