The Cotton Club (1984)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay: William Kennedy & Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Nicholas Cage, Fred Gwynne, Lawrence Fishburne, John P. Ryan, Tom Waits, Jennifer Grey, Ed O’Ross, Woody Strode and James Russo.
The Pitch: “Let’s make an event movie based on famous gangsters with dancing!”
Tagline: “Welcome to The Cotton Club. Where Crime Lords rub elbows with the rich and famous. Where deals are made, lives are traded. And the legends of jazz light up the night.”
The Overview: Beware of Spoilers…
It is still hard for me to believe I don’t like this movie better than I do. Look at the director (Coppola!), the cast (too many to list) and the subject matter. How can this not rate higher? Perhaps the narrative is too all over the place…
There’s the young musician [Gere] who inadvertently saves a gangster [Remar] and ends up in a romantic triangle with the gangster’s girl [Lane].
There’s the African-American brothers who want to make it as a dance team but end up feuding and split up.
There’s the two gangs which are almost ready to go to war.
There’s the Cotton Club – the place owned by whites, but the talent is black and where a lot of the action happens.
There’s the… well, I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The music is fine. The dance numbers [especially by the Hines brothers] are fun. It’s also a kick to identify the real historical figures portrayed in the film. Still, the movie itself falls short.