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The Cotton Club

It was the jazz age. It was an era of elegance and violence. The action was gambling. The stakes were life and death.
The Cotton Club
The story of the people that frequented Harlem's famous nightclubs, 'The Cotton Club', and those that ran it.
Title The Cotton Club
Release Date 1984-12-14
Genres Music Drama Crime Romance
Production Companies Orion Pictures, PSO International, Totally Independent
Production Countries United States of America


John Chard
And all - that - jazz! Far better than its iffy reputation suggests, The Cotton Club is guilty of being stuffed to the gills, but it also contains mighty fine film making that shows craft both behind and in front of the camera. Set in late 1920s Harlem, the pitch is an area of New York rife with swinging jazz, racism, crooks and gangsters. Prohibition and the depression fill the air just as the talkie movie bursts out of the silver screen. The Cotton Club of the title is the focal point for many of the key character's lives, so Francis Coppola, who stepped in at the eleventh hour of the troubled production, has many threads to juggle. He drops the odd one, but never to the detriment of the verve and swagger of the pic. Violence comes and goes, song and dance often dazzles the eyes and ears, and a cast of hundreds induces that good old game of spot the stars - past, present and future. The narrative has strength via the observations of a major part of America in great transition, with the art design ops and tech crew beavers aiding him considerably via some superb period flavourings There is no getting away from the slightness of some character strands, the director and co choosing to insert another, all be it delightful, dance or song number to fill the void, but the core of the story remains strong throughout. The underworld always looms large, the seedy side of the era pulses away continuously, while the cast enjoy the dressage and frontage of a key time in America's history. Flaws for sure but made with skill and passion and it never bores. Bravo! 7.5/10

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