The Cotton Club
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What The Cotton Club lacks is cohesion. As written by Coppola and novelist William Kennedy (then enjoying the peak of his critical acclaim), the movie struggles to exceed the narrative scope of The Godfather, but its multiple early-'30s plot lines fail to form any strong connective tissue. It's three (or four) movies in one, with cornet player Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere, playing his own jazzy solos) drifting from one story to the next--loving a young, ambitious vamp (Diane Lane, with whom Gere shares precious little chemistry), enjoying the success of a hotshot hoofer (Gregory Hines), and protecting his brazen bother (Coppola's then-newcomer nephew, Nicolas Cage) from the deadly temper of mob boss Dutch Schultz (James Remar). Bob Hoskins and Fred Gwynne also score big in grand supporting roles, but The Cotton Club is perhaps best appreciated for its meticulous re-creation of Harlem's Cotton Club heyday, and the brilliant music (Ellington, Calloway, etc.) that brought rhythm to gangland's rat-a-tat-tat. --Jeff Shannon
Top Customer Reviews
Richard Gere and Diane Lane are young, star-crossed, and multi-talented. Gere does his own cornet solos and Lane sings a gravelly "Ain't I Blue" while carrying a torch for Dixie Dwyer (Gere) right before her mobster boyfriend's deadly jealous eyes. Gere and Lane hate each other for their impossible love: they dance a slapping fight on the dance floor of the club while other dancers imitate their brawl, believing it to be a new dance step. This is among the many classic moments not to be missed.
A sub-theme of segregation is interwoven with stunning tap numbers and loaded songs, showing the irony and snobbery of a famous club that allowed only black people to sing, dance, and hoof it on stage while not allowing them entry via the front door as patrons. (See The Cotton Club's own Website for more history.)
At times, although the rivalry and bloodshed was riveting (I abhor gratuitous violence in movies but this one could not be told without depicting the violence of the era) there were moments when I wished we could just cut to the stage for an entire performance--instead of seeing snatches cut, albeit skillfully, into the mob and romance scenes. The song and dance numbers were sensational; it left me longing to transport myself back to the hey day of The Cotton Club for a year's worth of stellar entertainment.
My one disappointment was Cab Calloway. The actor chosen for the role certainly had the energy and crazy spontaneity of the real Cab, but not near the voice.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Should have been presented as a full-screen movie, as it was meant to be when first released. The best I could get on my television was a reduced version with about one-quarter of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Patricia A. Foucault
Sets, costumes and music are great.
Gere and Lane are laughably horrible, but everyone else is quite good. Read more
A classic movie with great actors. Tap dancing scenes are outstanding.Published 10 months ago by Old Student
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