MovieChat Forums > The Cotton Club (1984) Discussion > What Happened to the musical Numbers?

What Happened to the musical Numbers?


I was very interested in seeing this film when it was orgianlly released. But I was dissapointed in the results, and thought the mothin picture was total mess. I looked forward to seeing some of the musical numbers, saw none. Every time a production statred, the scene cut away from it. What Happened?

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[deleted]

This film had a very turbulent production...a lot of cutting and re-writing of scenes, re-casting, everything that could go wrong with the production of a film went wrong with this one. I found the final product a little disappointing as well, because it seemed like Coppolla was unsure of what kind of film he wanted to make. Did he want to showcase the amazing msucial history behind the Cotton Club or did he just want to make another gangster film? Though the final scene, which is seamless melding of both genres, is fascinating to watch.

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New York Magazine did an article about the film many years ago indicating that Mr. Gere insisted on musical numbers being cut (out or trimmed, don't recall) because they were good enough to detract from his performance.

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I played trombone on the soundtrack of the movie, and I can assure you we laid down an awful lot more music than finally appeared in the picture. What happened to it all I have no idea.... I'm just a mere musician, and not party to the in and outs of hollywood politics. What I can say is that Richard Gere actually DID play the cornet for that scene, and considering that he is not a musician, he did one hell of a good job! Also something I found interesting when I saw the movie is that they used a portion of a rehearsal we made, its the sax section running through HOT AND BOTHERED (which is very tricky for them). Its only in the background, while dialogue is going on, but its there all the same! I figure its supposed to be Duke's sax section rehearsing it in another room.... which even that great sax section would have had to do! I was quite touched when I heard that - considering that it was OUR sax section genuinely rehearsing it just as Duke's boys would have done in 1928! Believe me, I would love to hear all the other stuff we recorded that didn't make it into the movie too! Oh well, at least we have the original recordings by Duke and Cab!!! Respect!

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Thank you so much for sharing your experiences on this film. I saw this film in the theaters during its initial release and as I said, found it equal parts fascinating and troubling. Personally, I would have loved to have seen this film concentrate more on the club itself, the performers, the music, and not so much on the gangster stuff. I think Copolla tried to paint on too large a canvas, trying to make the film be part musical, part drama, part action film, part gangster saga and stretching the elements so thin, the whole suffered as a result. Do you feel the film should have concentrated more on the musical elements than the gangster elements? I think it would have been a much more interesting film if it had.

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Thankyou. I agree with your analysis fully, too broad a canvas indeed. As I said, we recorded loads of stuff that didn't make it into the movie, and even the excerpts of various numbers such as DAYBREAK EXPRESS, THE MOOCH, JUBILEE STOMP (and many more!) were recorded in their entirety. Whether dance-routines were ever filmed or staged for these numbers I do not know, as we recorded them separately from the shoot. These numbers were recorded as Duke or Cab recorded them at the time, (using the original scores where they still exist)and so there was no need to film-sync them. Needless to say the band(s) that appear in the movie are not us, but I figure actors(?) miming to our sound. The only guy that appears in the movie who actually performed on the soundtrack was, as far as I recall, Gere. (Singers excepted, of course). The film may well have been more interesting from a historical point of view if it had concentrated more on the club itself and the musical numbers, but I guess that is not what Copolla was ever trying to do. It would have had quite limited appeal too, so we're left with the mish-mash we have today. That it was made at all is very surprising. It could have been better, yes - but if it helped bring the wonderful music of Ellington to a slightly wider audience outside of the jazz-buffs, then at least it achieved something!

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You're right, the music was wonderful and I can't help thinking what this film might have or could have been. Thank you for sharing your experiences on the film.

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[deleted]

Always interesting to read comment from people actually involved in making the movie. However, I am personally quite satisfied with the amount of musical numbers in the movie. I'm not much of a musical-guy. A couple of minutes of performance added here and there - that would have been fine by me. But if you are talking about adding 10 or 20 minutes, then that would have been too much for my taste.

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Idk there seemed to be plenty of prolonged music/dance numbers as it is - add more and you'll have to start cutting down on the actual story which is already somewhat sketchy and elliptical.



"facts are stupid things" Ronald Reagan

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