7.2/10
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38 user 30 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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Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 10 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

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 Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Though the film is in color, the Warner Brothers logo at the start of the picture was unusually displayed in black-and-white. The logo is in color in the movie's trailer. See more »

Goofs

When Bird is dictates the telegram to be sent to Chan, it's printed as he speaks. He says "Forgive me for not being in the hospital with you," but the telegram reads "Forgive me for not being there with you while you were at the hospital." See more »

Quotes

Dizzy Gillespie: No, no... what you're really asking me is, how come when I'm supposed to hit at 9:30, I hit at 9:30... huh? How come I land on a cat I love almost as much as I love you and then fire his ass for showing up late or stoned... I can hold a group together... why I'm a leader.
Charlie 'Bird' Parker: That's what I'm asking.
Dizzy Gillespie: Because they don't expect me to be. Because deep down they like it if the nigger turns out to be unreliable. Because that's the way they think it's supposed to be. Because I won't give them the ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Jewish Wedding
Performed by Charles McPherson, Red Rodney, Walter Davis, Jr., John Guerin
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Cool Soundtrack! Overall good movie but, flawed.
9 August 2000 | by ralpho2001See all my reviews

If you like Jazz you can't 'not like' this movie. If you like Noir you will dig the overall look of it. My only problem is that Eastwood concentrates more on presenting the tragic side of Charlie parker's life and so we get a very dark and somber film.

While we do get glimpses of Parker as 'musician', Forest Whitaker's, Parker as 'junkie', tends to weigh down the story. If Eastwood had to choose between highlighting the story of 'The greatest jazz musician of all time' or 'The premature death of a self-destructive Junkie', It's obvious which route he chose to take...the easiest one.

Ultimately it becomes more a movie about Parker's relationship with his wife Chan, and less about Parker's relationship with Jazz. In my opinion, Clint doesn't really succeed at showing us why we should love the character of Bird and maybe this was not his intention; but if a separation of the personality (warts and all) and his art is necessary to show an honest depiction; then why not also highlight the music and allow it to speak for itself? In this case, by making it a more satisfying listening experience like Formans "Amadeus" or Tavernier's "Round Midnight". The way they allowed the music be THE lead character of the movie.

Still, the improved fidelity in the remix of the soundtrack makes some of these old recordings easier digestible for those who may be new to Parker's music. Incidentally, this is the best fidelity of Charlie Parker you'll find anywhere. On the whole this is not a bad movie; It is not a complete depress-fest like two other movies about drug induced pop culture icons: 'The Doors' or 'Sid & Nancy'. Indeed this movie has its moments. There's a scene where Parker (blowing on his sax) wakes up Dizzy in the middle of the night to improvise on 'Now's the Time'. I also love the scene where he takes a gig with Red Rodney to play at a Jewish wedding. I wanted more of this type of interaction with his fellow Jazzers!


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