40 user 6 critic

Lackawanna Blues (2005)

PG-13 | | Drama, Music | TV Movie 12 February 2005
In a story fueled by rhythm and blues, a young boy's life is shaped by love and the stories of a cast of characters in the boarding house where he lives in 1960s Lackawanna, New York.


George C. Wolfe


Ruben Santiago-Hudson (play), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (teleplay)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 29 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
S. Epatha Merkerson ... Rachel "Nanny" Crosby
Marcus Carl Franklin ... Ruben Santiago Jr. (as Marcus Franklin)
Yasiin Bey ... The Bandleader (as Mos Def)
Carmen Ejogo ... Alean
Bill Simms Jr. Bill Simms Jr. ... Self
Louis Gossett Jr. ... Ol'lem Taylor
Macy Gray ... Pauline
Terrence Howard ... Bill Crosby (as Terrance Dashon Howard)
Ernie Hudson ... Dick Barrymore
Delroy Lindo ... Mr. Lucious
Rosie Perez ... Bertha
Ruben Santiago-Hudson ... Freddie Cobbs
Liev Schreiber ... Ulysses Ford
Jimmy Smits ... Ruben Santiago Sr.
Patricia Wettig ... Laura's Mother


In the 1950s and 1960s, Ruben Santiago-Hudson Jr. lives in a lively boardinghouse in the blue-collar town of Lackawanna, New York, with his father after his parents separate. Run by the motherly Nanny Crosby and her taciturn husband, the boardinghouse residents, including The Bandleader, singer Pauline and cabaret owner Dick Barrymore, teach the young boy about life and art. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Play it. Sing it. Shout it. Feel it.


Drama | Music


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Director George C. Wolfe produced the Off-Broadway stage production. See more »


When Rachel is getting $20 bills pinned on her, there are pinned bills on her right side including her arm, when they return to that scene, the bills are gone. See more »


Laura: I'm just so tired of this, Nanny. I can't... I can't
[she starts to cry]
Rachel "Nanny" Crosby: I know. Nanny got you. Go on. Go on, let it out. It's gonna be all right.
See more »


Featured in 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2006) See more »


Composed by Fleecie Moore
Performed by Yasiin Bey
Produced by Bruce Robb & Evyen Klean
Recorded, Arranged, Engineered & Mixed by Bruce Robb at Cherokee Studios
See more »

User Reviews

A slice of life
13 February 2005 | by jotix100See all my reviews

The main reason for watching this picture is to savor the brilliant performance of S. Ephata Merkerson. Ms. Merkerson dominates this film with her tremendous presence as Nanny, the woman who believes in doing good, no matter to whom, with no strings attached. This actress clearly shows a range that is amazing.

Thanks to director George Wolf for bringing this distinguished cast of some of the best Black Americans actors together. This ensemble group under his tight direction help create the right atmosphere in which the action takes place.

Of course, none of this would have been possible if Ruben Santiago Hudson hadn't written his wonderful play. Working with Mr. Wolf, perhaps the best theater director of this generation, they have opened the play in a way that it evokes that not too distant past where a child lives under the influence of Ms. Crosby, when his own parents are not around to take care of him. Ms. Crosby becomes the adoring mother of little Ruben; in a way, he represents her reward for having lost her own daughter.

Unfortunately, there is no time to develop some of the characters, as the action solely concentrates in enhancing the relationship between Nanny and the young Ruben, played with such charm by the young Marcus Carl Franklin, who is a natural. The only thing that could have been done differently was the voice over narration that is at times intrusive, as it doesn't clarify, or justify what one is seeing. Frankly, just by watching the interaction of the players, is self explanatory.

In the background there is always music. No matter what hard times these people are going through, but Nanny's house is full of laughter and that glorious music that takes us back to that era.

Aside from Ms. Merkerson, other notable performances are given by Terrence Dashon Howard, one of the rising stars of the moment. Mos Def, Jeffrey Wright, Marcy Gray, Louis Gossett Jr.,Delroy Lindo, Rosie Perez, Carmen Ejogo, Jimmy Smits and the rest.

Ms. S. Ephata Merkerson deserves to be seen by a wider audience. In "Lackawanna Blues", she clearly demonstrates she can do anything she wants because of her enormous talent and charisma.

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Official Sites:

HBO [United States]





Release Date:

12 February 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lackawanna Blues See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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