6.6/10
10,863
37 user 31 critic

Mo' Better Blues (1990)

Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
Jazz trumpeter Bleek Gilliam makes questionable decisions in his professional and romantic lives.

Director:

Spike Lee

Writer:

Spike Lee
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Denzel Washington ... Bleek Gilliam
Spike Lee ... Giant
Wesley Snipes ... Shadow Henderson (Sax)
Giancarlo Esposito ... Left Hand Lacey (Piano)
Robin Harris ... Butterbean Jones
Joie Lee ... Indigo Downes
Bill Nunn ... Bottom Hammer (Bass)
John Turturro ... Moe Flatbush
Dick Anthony Williams ... Big Stop Williams
Cynda Williams ... Clarke Bentancourt
Nicholas Turturro ... Josh Flatbush
Jeff 'Tain' Watts Jeff 'Tain' Watts ... Rhythm Jones (Drums)
Samuel L. Jackson ... Madlock
Leonard L. Thomas ... Rod
Charlie Murphy ... Eggy (as Charles Q. Murphy)
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Storyline

Opens with Bleek as a child learning to play the trumpet, his friends want him to come out and play but mother insists he finish his lessons. Bleek grows into adulthood and forms his own band - The Bleek Gilliam Quartet. The story of Bleek's and Shadow's friendly rivalry on stage which spills into their professional relationship and threatens to tear apart the quartet. Written by David <DGOWERS6@CHECLABA.SCU.EDU.AU>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Spike Lee joint.

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Denzel Washington's trumpet is played by Terence Blanchard and Branford Marsalis plays the sax for Wesley Snipes. The music you hear in the movie when the actors are "playing" was performed by Branford's working band which was used for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992) when Jay Leno took over. See more »

Goofs

During the performance of Bleek's "Pop Top Urban 40 Funk Love ... Song", Bleek's headgear changes from hat to baseball cap. See more »

Quotes

Bleek: But the jazz, you know if we had to dep... if we had to depend upon black people to eat, we would starve to death. I mean, you've been out there, you're on the bandstand, you look out into the audience, what do you see? You see Japanese, you see, you see West Germans, you see, you know, Slabobic, anything except our people - it makes no sense. It incenses me that our own people don't realize our own heritage, our own culture, this is our music, man.
Shadow Henderson: That's bullshit.
Bleek: Why?
Shadow Henderson: [slurred] It's all bullsh.....
See more »

Crazy Credits

Flavor Flave of the rap group Public Enemy spells out the letters in "Universal" as the studio logo appears on the screen. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Inside the Actors Studio: Episode #7.6 (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

A Jazz Thing
By Gang Starr, Kenny Kirkland and Robert Hurst
See more »

User Reviews

 
Very Good, But Not On Par With Other Spike Work
26 October 2006 | by jzappaSee all my reviews

In Spike Lee's fourth film, Denzel Washington proves early in his career that he is capable of being funny and romantic in a more modest film than Glory or Cry Freedom, the music is breezy and romantic and consistent, jazzy and colorful cinematography, and another characteristic Spike Lee touch, which is his gift for drawing from his actors stunningly realistic performances. In some ensemble scenes, the dialogue seems like improvisation. Maybe it is.

Mo' Better Blues is a good, steady, effective drama, a portrait of a complex and overwrought musician and the indecision and jealousy that gradually eat away at his life, but it lacks the passion and brazen provocative nature of nearly all of Spike Lee's other films.

The cast, once again, is brilliant. Denzel is very very very authentic, faithful, graphic, and lifelike. My brother is a jazz musician and I've met several of his fellow musicians. I'm seasoned when it comes to jazz musicians. Take my word for it, Denzel's performance is entirely true. Snipes is brilliantly, swaggeringly audacious. Joie Lee comprehensively draws our sympathy towards her sensitive, self-conscious character and away from the elegant and subtly compelling Cynda Williams. Spike Lee himself is one of the most compelling characters. Samuel L. Jackson entertains in one of his millions and billions of early bit roles.

If I were to say, "I'm in the mood for a Spike Lee joint," this would not be one of the first films I pick, but it's different and enthralling. I mean, it's directed by Spike Lee, so how can it not be?


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 August 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Love Supreme See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,387,360, 5 August 1990

Gross USA:

$16,153,593

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$16,153,593
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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