Combining electric song and dance performances with drama (both on and off screen), Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club (1984) looks back to the 1920s-1930s peak of the legendary Harlem nightclub where only blacks performed and only whites could sit in the audience. Mixing historical figures with characters loosely based on actual people, Coppola and co-writers William Kennedy and The Godfather's Mario Puzo create a panorama of love, crime, and entertainment centered on the Club. Among them are cornet player Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere, playing his own solos), who escapes psycho gangster "benefactor" Dutch Schultz (James Remar) for a George Raft-type Hollywood career as a gangster film star; Schultz's nubile mistress Vera Cicero (Diane Lane), who loves Dixie against her mercenary instincts; Cotton Club Mob owner Owney Madden (Bob Hoskins) and close associate Frenchy Demarge (Fred Gwynne); Vincent (Nicolas Cage), Dixie's no-good Mad Dog Coll-esque brother; Club tap star Sandman Williams (Gregory Hines), who woos ambitious light-skinned Club singer Lila Rose Oliver (Lonette McKee); and cameos by Charles "Honi" Coles and Cab Calloway impersonator Larry Marshall. Complementing the period story, Coppola evokes the style of '30s gangster movies and musicals through an array of old-fashioned devices like montages of headlines, songs and shoot-outs. Conceived by producer Robert Evans as his crowning achievement and directorial debut, Evans had to hand over the troubled production to Coppola, but the budget spiraled out of control as the script was repeatedly re-written throughout the chaotic shoot. By the time it was released, The Cotton Club's epic production story of power struggles, financial bloat, and even a murder overshadowed the "reunion" of The Godfather's creative team. Neither a Heaven's Gate-sized failure nor a wallet-saving hit like Coppola's Apocalypse Now, The Cotton Club got some favorable critical notices (although it drew fire for subordinating the African American stories). It did not, however, find a large enough audience to justify its expense and controversy, becoming another mark against 1970s "auteur" cinema in increasingly blockbuster-driven 1980s Hollywood.~Lucia Bozzola
Introduction to The Cotton Club Encore by Francis Ford Coppola
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Rated 4 out of 5 stars
Owned for 1 week when reviewed.
Having essentially retired from active moviemaking, famed director Francis Coppola has taken to tinkering with some of his movie canon. He recently gave us a "Final Cut" to "Apocalypse Now" (that was actually a trimming of "Redux," which in itself was a director's cut of his theatrical release) and now he gives us an "Encore" to "The Cotton Club," an ambitious period musical drama about the famed Harlem nightclub in the 1930s, which stars Richard Gere in one of his best performances as a white jazz musician involved in an interracial relationship. There's a great supporting cast around him (Diane Lane, Nicolas Cage, Lonette McKee, and the great Gregory Hines) and the production quality (cinematography, set design, costumes, sound) is lavish. This new disc is actually a director's cut remastering of the theatrical release, which Coppola was long rumored to have been unhappy with. Some musical numbers have been extended, and character relationships explored with more detail. This new disc doesn't give us all the other versions of the film that the new Apocalypse blu ray package did, which is a shame. I suppose we'll have to wait for the "Second Encore" for that, when and if there is one.
Disclaimer: this review will contain a few spoilers that are necessary to convince you it's worth the purchase.
Been awhile since I've seen this film; but, I've watched it so many times in the past, it was easy to see where new footage was added and what was taken out. This film is a must-own simply for the extended/alternate scenes with the late, great Gregory Hines AND his real-life estranged brother Maurice alone!!! But, when you add in additional performances of Lonette McKee and a surprise appearance by Jackee (227), it truly heightens up the appeal of purchase. The restoration truly gives this film a new look: colors are exquisitely vivid, blacks truly pop (lots of fine lines in the suits/tuxes), and facial details aplenty (I've noticed quite a bit of dimples, beauty marks, etc. that I don't remember seeing before). Definitely recommended!!!
So glad that this classic period piece is available for purchase. F.F.C. brings us his original vision of his attempt at a Gangster/Musical. I remember owning the theatrical version on vhs tape. This bluray stands head and shoulders above that studio hack job. Amazing performances by the late Gregory Hines and Fred Gywnne. Lonnette McKee gives a star-making turn that was lost in all the controversy surrounding the pictures production. The high definition picture and sound looks amazing on my 4k and 7.2 surround setup. Extras include the director along with Maurice Hines, ( Gregory's brother) and James Remar discussing the making of the film. A must have collectable.
I had the Cotton Club on DVD but The Cotton Club Encore is the finest version of the film ever. Coppola has been able to expand the film with 40 minutes that add so much to the enjoyment of the movie. The Cotton Club Encore is breathtaking on Blu Ray but also the whole film is a more fleshed out edition of now a great film that is on several levels. Its a gangster film, a jazz extravaganza and a star filled period piece of the 1920 1930s as well as a story of the Real Cotton Club. There are also an introduction by Coppola and a question and answer talk about the film. The Cotton Club Encore is now a wonderful film to enjoy over and over again for its many levels
The original theatrical version of The Cotton Club was a mess, but it was never a boring mess... But Encore is simply a better film, transforming a collection of moments into a strikingly concise whole.
Jazz, race relations, and bootleggers burn up the screen in Francis Ford Coppola's newly restored and greatly improved The Cotton Club Encore. With restored plot lines and important character moments, a beautiful mess of a film finds its soul. Lionsgate delivers The Cotton Club Encore to Blu-ray in a two-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD set. The A/V presentation is beautiful material highlighting the beautiful visual styling. Bonus features are sadly on the light side. If you only remember the original 1984 cut, it's time to give The Cotton Club Encore a chance to impress you. Highly Recommended.
While the Cotton Club may have it's detractors, to me it was a great film. The casting was excellent and the story was good, about crime in the 30s with "Dutch" Schulz trying to get rid of his romantic rival Dixie Dwyer. The story revolves around the Cotton Club, a night club which featured black entertainers.
While it is good that the film was released on Blu-Ray, the transfer leaves a bit to be desired. Individual scenes are sharp and clear but scenes at night and in the Cotton Club are soft in comparison.
The Cotton Club Encore, is a look back in time to what life in the 20’s and 30’s was like. This movie is somewhat historical, in the way it depicts some of the known characters of this era. This was a time when entertainment was staged not so much on a large stage, but in a relativity small room, close to the performers, something which is rarely done today. The Tap Dancing scenes, featuring Gregory and Maurice Hines were especially outstanding.