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Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)

A documentary film about the life of pianist and jazz great Thelonious Monk. Features live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius.


Charlotte Zwerin

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Credited cast:
Jimmy Cleveland Jimmy Cleveland ... Himself (trombonist, Thelonious Monk Octet)
Harry Colomby Harry Colomby ... Himself (personal manager)
John Coltrane ... Himself
Ray Copeland Ray Copeland ... Himself (Thelonious Monk Octet: trumpet) (archive footage)
Nica De Koenigswarter Nica De Koenigswarter ... Herself
Tommy Flanagan Tommy Flanagan ... Himself (duo, piano performance)
Larry Gales Larry Gales ... Himself (Thelonius Monk Quartet / Thelonious Monk Octet, bass player)
Johnny Griffin Johnny Griffin ... Himself (Thelonious Monk Octet, tenor sax)
Barry Harris Barry Harris ... Himself (duo, piano performance)
Bob Jones ... Himself (road manager)
Teo Macero Teo Macero ... Himself (Columbia Records producer)
Thelonious Monk Jr. Thelonious Monk Jr. ... Himself
Nellie Monk Nellie Monk ... Herself
Thelonious Monk ... Himself (archive footage)
Frank Paccione Frank Paccione ... Himself-Vocalist (singing voice)


A documentary film about the life of pianist and jazz great Thelonious Monk. Features live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis








Release Date:

31 October 1990 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Straight, No Chaser See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of three 1988 Clint Eastwood movies. along with Bird (1988) and The Dead Pool (1988) See more »


Thelonious Monk: [scribbles something on a piece of paper] Can you read that?
Nica De Koenigswarter: A beautiful message.
Thelonious Monk: If somebody can decipher that for you, you know, and say what it means, get what it means, it'll upset you. You'll flip, I mean flip for real!
See more »


Sweetheart of All My Dreams
Written by Art Fitch, Kay Fitch and Bert Lowe
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User Reviews

Excellent stuff
17 April 2010 | by laska_himselfSee all my reviews

Clint Eastwood presents: a documentary about jazz genius. Thelonius Monk is portrayed as an artist both blessed and cursed just by his genius. Apart from typical format of 'talking heads' of the genre master (John Coltrane), collaborators, figures from music business and Thelonius, Jr., there is shown small but intense piece of the musician's life: in the studio, on the road, during live concerts. And a note about unusual, long-lasting friendship between Thelonius and Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter. The makers were able to grasp tension coming from creative process (songs being written on the run, then played in front of huge audience without proper rehearsal), routine of life on tour with ever-tendering wife Nellie by his side, biased or just silly questions from journalists, more or less visible symptoms of mental illness (which might have been confused with artist's mannerisms, stage antics or eccentricities at most). And trademark exotic hats (could anyone else in the 20th century look cool in that historic Polish head thingy?). Another memorable thing is Monk's diction and his simple, street-like way of talking, being in contradiction with the kind of a man he was (supposedly extremely complex one) and with undeniably sophisticated music he composed and performed. Luckily, there is plenty here of the latter. Chamber, suggestive film in black and white about an extraordinary man. And a must not just for "jazz purists" but music lovers in general.

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