Watch The Cotton Club
- 2 hr 8 min
Set in the glamorous and dangerous world of the Jazz Age, The Cotton Club is a 1984 American Crime Drama directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Featuring an all-star cast, led by Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, and Diane Lane, the film tells the story of the famous Harlem jazz club The Cotton Club and the gangsters, musicians, and love stories that revolve around it. The story takes place in 1928, at the height of prohibition-era America. Owney Madden (Bob Hoskins), a notorious gangster, runs The Cotton Club, a popular nightspot where the best jazz musicians of the era perform. One of the hottest acts is Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere), a talented trumpet player with dreams of making it big as a Hollywood actor. Dixie falls for Vera Cicero (Diane Lane), the girlfriend of the club's owner, but their love affair is complicated by the fact that Vera's brother is a hitman for the mob. Meanwhile, Dixie's best friend Sandman Williams (Gregory Hines), a tap-dancing sensation, is drawn into the violent world of organized crime when he tries to help his drug-addicted brother Clay (Maurice Hines). As the various storylines intersect, tensions rise, and violence erupts as rival gangs battle for control of the city's illegal liquor trade. Against this backdrop, the musicians at The Cotton Club perform their music night after night, providing a pulsing, rhythmic soundtrack for the drama that unfolds. The Cotton Club was a lavish production, recreating the sights and sounds of 1920s Harlem in faithful detail. The film's sumptuous art direction and costume design earned it an Academy Award nomination, as did the dazzling choreography and tap-dancing of the Hines brothers. Richard Gere delivers a strong performance as the ambitious Dixie, while Diane Lane shines as his love interest Vera. The real stand-out, however, is Gregory Hines, whose tap-dancing is a highlight of the film. Hines also delivers a touching and nuanced performance as Sandman, torn between loyalty to his brother and his own dreams of artistic success. The film's music is another standout feature, with classic jazz numbers performed by legendary musicians such as Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Cab Calloway. The film's soundtrack won a Grammy Award and features a mix of original compositions, classic jazz standards, and new arrangements of old favorites. Despite its strong cast and impressive production values, The Cotton Club received mixed reviews upon its release. Some critics praised the film's style and energy, while others found the plot convoluted and confusing. Some also criticized the film for glossing over the darker aspects of the Harlem Renaissance, including racism and poverty. Despite these criticisms, The Cotton Club remains a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era of music and nightlife, as well as a sobering look at the violent underworld that lurked beneath the surface. With its blend of drama, romance, and music, The Cotton Club remains a unique and compelling film that captures the spirit of a turbulent and vibrant period in American history.