THE COTTON CLUB (1984 U.S.) D/W: FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA W: MARIO PUZO/WILLIAM KENNEDY P: ROBERT EVANS
Richard Gere is Dixie Dwyer, a jazz trumpeter from Harlem who inadvertently saves gangster Dutch Schultz (James Remar)`s life, and enters the exclusive sphere of mobsters and stars who frequented the infamous titular club, where talented black artists performed for a whites-only clientele. The time period is tail-end Roaring Twenties through to the early years of The Depression. Schultz grows envious of the good-looking, dapper and suave Gere, who chases his girl (Diane Lane) and even makes good in Hollywood. Meanwhile Gere`s brother (Nicolas Cage) is a troublesome underling who wants to challenge Schultz`s power (a character based on Mad Dog Coll, down to the shooting of a child [Sofia Coppola, by the way] in a crossfire). Gregory Hines plays a tap-dancing character modelled after Bojangles (who he did play in a later movie which was based on a book by Jim Haskin, as is this). Larry Fishburne is a black gangster fighting back against Schultz`s oppression (based on the real Bumpy Johnson, who he later played in HOODLUM). This Zoetrope production disappointed many when it was new, hardly surprising when it was a gangster movie made by the same people (Coppola and Puzo) responsible for THE GODFATHER movies, still fresh in people`s minds as genre classics. But THE COTTON CLUB is actually very good, a stylish semi-musical re-imagining of the films of Hollywood`s yesteryears, and the cast is pretty interesting. With Lonette McKee, Fred Gwynne, Bob Hoskins, Tom Waits, Mario Van Peebles, Joe Dallesandro (as Lucky Luciano), Ed O`Ross, Allen Garfield, Gwen Verdon, Jennifer Grey, Julian Beck, John P. Ryan, Woody Strode, James Russo, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Cobbs, Tom Signorelli, Mark Margolis. Diane Venora is Gloria Swanson, and others play Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Charlie Chaplin and James Cagney.

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