No Ordinary Man

Watch No Ordinary Man

  • NR
  • 2021
  • 1 hr 24 min
  • 6.8  (382)
  • 72

No Ordinary Man is a 2020 documentary film that explores the story of jazz musician Billy Tipton, who was discovered to have been living as a man, despite being born a woman. The film delves into Tipton's life and career, and examines the impact of his gender identity on his music and personal relationships. Tipton was a talented jazz musician who enjoyed success in the 1940s and 1950s, playing with some of the biggest names in the business, including Jerry Lee Lewis and Duke Ellington. However, his private life was a closely guarded secret, and it was only after his death in 1989 that it was revealed that he had been born female.

No Ordinary Man seeks to shed light on Tipton's life and legacy, and to challenge the way that society views and talks about transgender people. Through interviews with members of Tipton's family, friends and fellow musicians, as well as contemporary trans activists and scholars, the film offers a nuanced and compassionate portrayal of Tipton's experiences.

One of the key questions that the film asks is how Tipton's gender identity affected his music. Some argue that his decision to present as a man may have been a career move, as it allowed him to fit in better with the largely male-dominated world of jazz. Others, including Tipton's son, argue that his gender identity was a deeply personal and integral part of his identity, and that it influenced his music in ways that are often overlooked.

The film features rare footage of Tipton's performances, as well as interviews with musicians who played with him. These insights provide a window into Tipton's talents and the impact that his music had on those who heard it. They also offer a glimpse into the culture of jazz during the mid-20th century, and the challenges that artists faced in navigating both their personal lives and their careers.

No Ordinary Man also examines the way that Tipton's story has been told and retold over the years. Although he was celebrated during his lifetime, his legacy was called into question after his death, with some critics dismissing him as a fraud. The film argues that this criticism was both unfair and unfounded, and that it reflects a broader cultural discomfort with transgender identities.

In exploring these themes, No Ordinary Man offers a powerful and thought-provoking insight into the life of one of jazz's most enigmatic figures. It is a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of gender identity and its impact on personal identity, relationships, and art. The film is essential viewing for anyone interested in jazz, gender studies, or the challenges faced by transgender people throughout history.

Overall, No Ordinary Man is a fascinating and deeply moving exploration of the life and legacy of Billy Tipton. It offers a compelling portrait of a complex and talented musician, and challenges viewers to rethink their assumptions about gender and identity. This is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll, and that will inspire important conversations about inclusivity and understanding.

No Ordinary Man is a 2021 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 24 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8 and a MetaScore of 72.

No Ordinary Man
Where to Watch No Ordinary Man
No Ordinary Man is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent No Ordinary Man for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 24 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.8  (382)
  • Metascore