- 1 hr 36 min
Scott Joplin is a film biography starring Billy Dee Williams as the legendary ragtime pianist and composer. Scott Joplin is the son of former slaves, whose father leaves the family early on and he is raised by his mother. Scott is interested in music, particularly the piano and with the help of music teacher Julius Weiss, he becomes proficient on the piano. In the late 19th century, Joplin is playing piano in dives and bars. The color of his skin holds him back. Joplin enters a music contest and introduces his most famous song, The Maple Leaf Rag. It becomes an instant hit around town. A white publisher offers to buy the composition offering him one per cent of the earnings. While it sounds like a very low offering, Joplin jumps at the chance to get his music out to the public. Ragtime music takes off and Joplin becomes wealthier than he has ever realized. Joplin is never satisfied with just ragtime music. He longs to write a concerto or an opera. For the time being he continues to write music and perform in bars and brothels. While he is touring and teaching music he is also wrting an opera but it is confiscated along with some of his belongings for non payment of debts that he owes. He moves to New York city to seek his fortune and to find a producer for an opera he wants to bring to the stage. Unfortunately the show closes due to lack of interest. By this time Joplin is beginning to take ill. He has contracted syphilis. He slowly deteriorates and dies at the age of fourty nine. This film follows Joplin through his triumphs and downfalls. It celebrates the life of one of the world's most prolific American composers.