"You got about as much style as a bowl of turnips."
- Vera Cicero
"What a mob, what a crowd, what a show!"
- Irving Stark (Tom Waits)
"I didn't have a mother--they found me in a garbage pail."
- Sol Weinstein (Julian Beck)
Sight and Sound - 03/01/1985
"...[Coppola] makes extremely striking use of the formalised talents of Gregory and Maurice Hines..."
Variety - 12/12/1984
"...Coppola and Kennedy have taken great pains to research the era and come up with an interesting mix of real and created characters of great authority..."
Beautiful music and striking dance performances are the highlight of Francis Ford Coppola's musical/mobster flick centered around the legendary Harlem nightclub. The club's black dancers and musicians entertain the exclusively white audience made up of gangsters and Hollywood stars. Local boy Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere) saves the life of crime boss Dutch Schultz (James Remar) and reluctantly enters the world of racketeering. Talented tap dancer Sandman Williams (Gregory Hines) struggles to get ahead in the segregated world of 1920s nightlife. Authentic costuming and sets help make THE COTTON CLUB a stylistic homage to the Jazz Age and gangster films of old.
It's the height of the 1920s Jazz Age and Harlem's famous Cotton Club is the home to both talented performers and gangster molls. Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere) is a cornet player who unexpectedly saves the life of mobster Dutch Schultz (James Remar). When Schultz takes Dixie under his wing, Dutch's girlfriend Vera Cicero (Diane Lane) and Dixie become dangerously entangled. Meanwhile, the performers at Owney Madden's (Bob Hoskins) club, led by Sandman Williams (Gregory Hines) and his brother Clay (played by real-life brother Maurice Hines), balance their lives as stars on the stage with the real-life discrimination of being black. Sandman falls for ambitious light-skinned chanteuse Lila (Lonette McKee) while Dixie moves to Hollywood to become a movie star. The supporting cast is a colorful mix, including musician Tom Waits as club manager Irving Stark; Fred Gwynne (aka Herman Munster) as Madden's sidekick, Frenchy; Broadway legend Gwen Verdon as Dixie's mom, Tish; Andy Warhol star Joe Dallesandro as Charles "Lucky" Luciano; and founder of New York's Living Theater, Julian Beck, as the sinister Sol Weinstein.
Music (General) |
Organized Crime |
Theatrical release: December 14, 1984.
Richard Gere played the cornet himself in all the film's musical scenes.
William Kennedy, who cowrote the script with Coppola, was familiar with the era of the film from writing his novels IRONWEED and LEGS, based on the life of gangster Legs Diamond.
Movie Lover: Myke-N-Ike from
Zanadu -- February, 12, 2008
One to own if simply not for the fantasic Hines Brothers performances. Best performance by Lonette McGee since "Sparkle", and magnetic chemistry between Gere and Lane. Also, the soundtrack is fantasic and worth seeking out.