Scott Joplin

Watch Scott Joplin

"Scott Joplin's ragtime music portrayed America...only Billy Dee Williams could portray Scott Joplin."
  • PG
  • 1977
  • 1 hr 36 min
  • 6.5  (319)

Scott Joplin is a 1977 biopic that tells the story of the life of Scott Joplin, considered one of the greatest composers of ragtime music. The movie stars Billy Dee Williams as Scott Joplin, Clifton Davis as his friend and patron John Stark, and Margaret Avery as Joplin's wife, Freddie. The movie follows Joplin's life from his early days as a struggling musician, through his rise to fame as a composer of ragtime music, and his eventual decline and death.

The movie begins with Scott Joplin in his early days as a struggling musician. He is a piano player in a saloon, trying to make a living by playing for tips. Despite his talent, he struggles to make ends meet, as he is constantly cheated by the saloon owner who takes a large cut of his earnings. However, he finds a friend and patron in John Stark, a music publisher who sees the potential in Joplin's music and encourages him to keep composing.

With Stark's help, Joplin begins to gain recognition as a composer of ragtime music, a new and popular style of music that is taking the country by storm. Joplin's compositions are innovative, catchy, and infectiously upbeat, and he becomes known as the "king of ragtime." However, his success comes at a price. Despite his talent and popularity, he is constantly faced with racism and discrimination, as he is a black man trying to make a name in a white-dominated industry.

Joplin's rise to fame coincides with his relationship with Freddie, a young woman he meets while playing in a saloon. Freddie becomes Joplin's muse and eventually his wife, but their relationship is strained by Joplin's relentless pursuit of his music career. Joplin's obsession with his music causes him to neglect Freddie, and she eventually leaves him to start a new life.

As Joplin's success grows, so do his financial woes. Despite his popularity, Joplin struggles to make a living from his music. He is constantly ripped off by unscrupulous music publishers and is forced to fight for the rights to his own songs. Despite his fame, Joplin remains a struggling musician, barely able to make ends meet.

The movie's climax comes with Joplin's decision to write his masterpiece, "Treemonisha." This ambitious work tells the story of a young black woman who emerges as a leader of her community and works to educate her people. Joplin sees the piece as his chance to make a lasting contribution to the world of music and to the struggle for civil rights.

However, Joplin's ambition proves to be his downfall. Despite his best efforts, "Treemonisha" is a commercial failure, and Joplin is left physically and emotionally broken. He spends the final years of his life in poverty and obscurity, plagued by illness and haunted by the memory of his lost love.

Overall, Scott Joplin is a compelling biopic that tells the story of one of America's greatest composers. The movie is beautifully shot and features a strong performance by Billy Dee Williams as Joplin. The film also does a good job of capturing the spirit of ragtime music, and the lively score is a highlight. However, the movie's real strength lies in its portrayal of Joplin's struggles as a black musician in a racist society. The film paints a vivid picture of the obstacles Joplin faced and the toll that his relentless pursuit of his music took on his personal life.

Scott Joplin is a 1977 music movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 36 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.5.

Scott Joplin
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 36 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.5  (319)