38 user 15 critic

The Five Heartbeats (1991)

R | | Drama, Music | 29 March 1991 (USA)
1:26 | Trailer
The story of the rise and fall of an African American vocal group.


Robert Townsend
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Townsend ... Duck
Michael Wright ... Eddie
Leon ... J.T.
Harry Lennix ... Dresser
Tico Wells Tico Wells ... Choirboy
Diahann Carroll ... Eleanor Potter
Harold Nicholas ... Sarge
Tressa Thomas ... Duck's Baby Sister
John Canada Terrell John Canada Terrell ... Michael 'Flash' Turner
Chuck Patterson Chuck Patterson ... Jimmy Potter
Hawthorne James ... Big Red
Roy Fegan ... Bird
Troy Byer ... Baby Doll (as Troy Beyer)
Carla Brothers Carla Brothers ... Tanya Sawyer
Deborah Lacey ... Rose


In the early 1960's, a quintet of hopeful young African American men form an amateur vocal group called The Five Heartbeats. After an initially rocky start, the group improve, turn pro, and rise to become a top flight music sensation. Along the way however, the guys learn many hard lessons about the reality of the music industry with it's casual racism and greed while the personal weaknesses of the members threaten to destroy the integrity of the band. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Diahann Carroll turned down a role in Boyz n the Hood (1991) to appear in this film. See more »


When Eddie and "Bobby" are escaping from the card game, "Bobby" bounces off a light blue Pontiac Firebird, but this scene is set in 1965, and the Firebird wasn't released until the 1967 model year. See more »


Sarge: Hold my cane. Step outside & I'll kick both of ya's ass like you stole something!
See more »


I Love Joey
Written by Michael Baker & Aisha Ahmad
Produced by George Duke & Steve Tyrell
Performed by Babydoll & The Crystals
Lead Vocals by Troy Byer (as Troy Beyer)
See more »

User Reviews

Film was loosely based on The Dells
27 February 2004 | by mikeydoowopsSee all my reviews

On almost all the comments everyone assumes this film is based on The Temptations. Which is a fair assumption given The Temps' lead singer David Ruffin had a serious drug problem,as did the 'Hearts in this film.

This film is actually based on a group named The Dells. The Dells started recording in 1953 (as The El-Rays, and changed to the Dells in '55). They have atleast 3to4 dozen R&B hits in every decade from the 1950s to the 90s. Everything in the Film except for the lead singer being a drug addict is based on their experiences. As with most Hollywood films somethings were embelished for Dramatic effect. The Dells also sang just about every song the soundtrack. The theme song "A Heart Is A House For Love" was a #13 R&B in 1991. Happy to say the Dells are still performing and recording together after 51 years, with no personell changes since 1957. The Dells served as Technical advisors on the film, and at the end of the credits they show a picture of them and the Film is dedicated to them.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 38 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

29 March 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Five Heartbeats See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,630,689, 31 March 1991

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Holiday Movies on Prime Video for the Whole Family

Prime Video has you covered this holiday season with movies for the family. Here are some of our picks to get you in the spirit.

Get some picks

Recently Viewed