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Product Details

  • Actors: Danny Glover, LisaGay Hamilton, Yaya DaCosta, Charles S. Dutton, Vondie Curtis-Hall
  • Directors: John Sayles
  • Writers: John Sayles
  • Producers: Ira Deutchman, Maggie Renzi, Mark Wynns, Susan Kirr
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Screen Media
  • DVD Release Date: June 24, 2008
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • ASIN: B0017M9ZNI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,876 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Honeydripper" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Director's Commentary
  • Interviews

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From Oscar® nominated director, John Sayles, comes an electrifying and vivid rock 'n' roll fable. When Tyrone, owner of the Honeydripper lounge, is faced with having to shut down his juke joint, his hopes rest on one man—the famous Guitar Sam. It's a make or break weekend for the Honeydripper, this better be some Saturday night!

With exquisite performances by Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Stacy Keach, Mary Steenburgen and Sean Patrick Thomas; and featuring musicians Keb' Mo' and Dr. Mable John—Honeydripper is an award winning film, full of great music and plenty of soul.


Music has often played a significant part in John Sayles' stories, but in Honeydripper it largely is the story, as the veteran writer-director’s 2007 film depicts a significant (if mythical) turning point when the past reluctantly gave way to the future. The year is 1950. In the somewhat ironically-named town of Harmony, Alabama, old school blues pianist Tyrone "Pinetop" Purvis (Danny Glover) and his funky roadhouse, the Honeydripper, are on the skids, rapidly losing customers to the joint next door, where young people are flocking to hear more modern sounds. Against his better judgment, Pinetop dismisses his dignified but out-of-date singer (played by Dr. Mable John, one of the several real musicians who lend the film considerable authenticity) and books "New Orleans sensation" Guitar Sam, hoping to save his club from foreclosure. But Guitar Sam proves to be as elusive as Godot, and as the big night approaches, Pinetop is running out of ideas. Enter young Sonny Blake (Gary Clark Jr.), who ambles into town with his newfangled, self-constructed electric guitar and proceeds to rock the house with a style that suggests a combination of T-Bone Walker and Chuck Berry and effectively ushers in the rock 'n' roll era. Story-wise, that's about it. This is a character-driven film, and there are a lot of good ones, including Lisa Gay Hamilton as Tyrone’s conflicted wife, Charles Dutton as his partner, and Stacey Keach as the corrupt local lawman. It's also a film loaded with metaphors and symbols, including the electric guitar as the dividing line between old and new and blues musician Keb' Mo' as a kind of one-man Greek chorus, dispensing homilies before disappearing into the shadows. The pace is leisurely, the dialogue colorful, and Sayles (who not only edited the film but has a small acting role as well) once again shows himself to be a modest master at creating movies for those looking for good, no-frills entertainment. A 30-minute making-of featurette and cast interviews are the principal bonus features. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

Great music and story line.
Linda Mullooly
A world our children and their children will never stand by and allow the mis-treatment of another Human, any where and for an Reason.
Don't want to spoil anything, it's a really good film! :)
K. Hiland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By B B McGuire on July 12, 2008
Format: DVD
John Sayles is a true independant filmmaker who not only finances, directs, edits and writes his movies but often times acts in and writes music for them. For "Honeydripper" Sayles did it all, and he wrote a couple of songs. He has dealt with the African American experience in movies before like: "Brother From Another Planet", "Passion Fish" and "City of Hope", but since most of the characters in "Honeydripper" are black he delves even deeper into the issue and the film is written more like a play with echoes of the work of August Wilson.
It's 1950 in the deep South and Danny Glover's Tyrone is barely making it and his Honeydripper lounge featuring aging blues players can't compete with the popular Jukejoint next door. To make matters worse the Honeydripper is about to close down unless Tyrone can come up with some serious money.
Most of the story revolves around the conflicts and relationships Tyrone has with his wife ( a powerful performance by Lisa Gay Hamilton), his partner (an excellent Charles Dutton), his daughter (a nice debut by model Ya Ya DeCosta), a young musician stranger (effectively played by young bluesman Gary Clark Jr.) and the white sheriff (a tailor made role for Stacey Keach). My favorite character is played by veteran bluesman Keb' Mo', a sort of bluesy greek chorus muse who appears at pivotal times only to Glover and Clark.
Sayles always takes his time developing his characters and the world in which they live, and though it may seem slow at first this lets you begin to care about what will happen to them. A big plus is the terrific music, and except for Glover, it is all played by the actors themselves and surprisingly it was all done live while filming.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dennis on July 1, 2008
Format: DVD
John Sayles, perhaps more than any other American filmmaker, has his finger on the pulse of what make this country special. A gifted storyteller, not one of his films is alike, but hes's at his best when he takes a small moment in time and uses it to explore a major change. EIGHT MEN OUT uses the Black Sox scandal to reflect the loss of innocence of our nation. LONE STAR uses a murder mystery to unearth skeletons long hidden, etc. With HONEYDRIPPER, Sayles latest, he explores the moment Blues Became Electric, opening the door for Rock & Roll, the dominant music of the last half of the 20th Century. He does so in the style of the late August Wilson, using quiet rhythms and essentially one locale to tell the story. In the process, he gets allows his stellar cast to deliver some great performances, including Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Keb Mo, Vondie Curtis-Hall and newcomer YaYa Dacosta, as China Doll. Gary Clark, Jr. is a little stiff in his acting debut, but once he picks up the guitar, he puts a smile on your face. Parts of the story may move a little slow, but Honeydripper's built for comfort, not for speed. Once you know the plot, you'll begin to pick out minor details in the fabric of the film that absolutely glow. Mind you, this is a film that could never be made within the Hollywood studio system, so if you're looking for Rush Hour 3, then move along. But if you like a good story told well or just love the Blues, Honeydripper deserves a spot on your personal video shelf.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Clean on August 6, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Having lived in the south for many years, "Honeydripper" was a nostalgic trip for us. Thought the acting excellent for the most part. Certainly the setting rang true. There is a long wait for the music, but the reward is worth it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Baberufus on October 25, 2009
Format: DVD
I love movies that provide insight in how 20th-century American music developed in the transitional period between the heyday of blues and the coming of rock and roll! It's fascinating to see, looking back, how people were dumbfounded at the idea of an electric guitar ("How does it make a sound? There's no soundhole!") The 50's and 60's were definitely the most exciting decades for being a musician--new ideas, musical styles and technology were developing at rapid speeds all over the place. What this movie does is provide an insight in how these kind of changes impacted a smalltown community in the south in 1950. The famous Guitar Sam (a character very obviously inspired by real blues artist Guitar Slim) backs out on a gig at the Honeydripper. No problem, some local upstart kid with an electric guitar can fill in for him--as Guitar Sam! The people in the community are so technologically deprived that they don't even know what Guitar Sam looks like, even though they eagerly flock to the club to see him perform!

Danny Glover does a great job in portraying the down-on-his-luck club owner, who needs to free himself of debt and his own demons stemming from an incident in his past. Keb Mo also does a great job in playing the guitar-playing character who embodies these demons.

Great music from Keb Mo and the other artists who supply the music. The piano playing during the end credits is some of the best blues piano playing you will ever hear! Fantastic! Great movie! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 15, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I was looking for a musical when I came across this and started to watch. Was surprised to find it a story about how music saved a man, his family, his business, and a drifter. It's a very good depiction about the times and the struggles the blacks had and that they could make it by sticking together. I gave it 5 stars only because that's as high as it goes. Oh, and by the way, I'm white.
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