The Cotton Club was a famous night club in Harlem. The story follows the people who visited the club, those who ran it, and is peppered with the Jazz music that made it so famous. Check out Ralph Potts’ Blu-ray review of The Cotton Club Encore from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
Studio and Year:
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Lionsgate - 1984
Feature running time:
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English, English SDH, Spanish
Gregory Hines, Richard Gere, Lonette McGee, Diane Lane, James Remar, Fred Gwynne, Bob Hoskins, Allen Garfield, Nicholas Cage, Laurence Fishburne
Francis Ford Coppola
William Kennedy, Francis Ford Coppola
December 10, 2019
"It Ain’t Real Life. It’s Jazz"
“In this lavish, 1930s-era drama, Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club becomes a hotbed of passion and violence as the lives and loves of entertainers and gangsters collide. Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s extraordinary film is brought to vivid new life in The Cotton Club Encore. Featuring never-before-seen scenes and musical sequences that deepen the story lines, this remastered and beautifully restored version represents Coppola’s fully realized vision of The Cotton Club.” – Lionsgate Home Entertainment
The lives of various characters intersect at Harlem's renowned Cotton Club. Handsome horn player Dix Dwyer (Richard Gere) falls for Vera Cicero (Diane Lane), the stunning girlfriend of famous gangster Dutch Schultz (James Remar). Meanwhile Dix's brother, Vincent (Nicolas Cage), falls in with Schultz's crew, while Owney Madden (Bob Hoskins), the jazz venue's proprietor, has his own mob ties. Although Dix goes on to become a Hollywood actor, his life doesn't get any less complicated or dangerous.
I first saw The Cotton Club
on VHS tape while visiting my brother back in the mid-eighties. I was immediately taken with its period-based story which served as an homage not only to the turbulent times it portrayed but, the African-American men and women that performed in the club and to a lesser extent, their personal lives. The story revolves around a set of characters, primarily focusing on Dixie Dwyer and African-American tap dancer “Sandman” Williams and the various subplots/characters surrounding them.
Additionally, the film features musical set pieces that spoke to the jazz of the era, its influence on the running of the Cotton Club and the entertainers that breathed life into it. I always enjoyed The Cotton Club
more so for its scope and series of “moments” rather than finding it to be a complete cinematic work. I have owned it on DVD for years and have been awaiting its release on Blu-ray. I was thrilled to learn that Francis Ford Coppola decided to revisit The Cotton Club
for the purposes of restoring narrative elements that were originally omitted from the film.
The Cotton Club: Encore
features 27 minutes of previously unreleased scenes and omits 13 minutes of footage found in the original film. I really like what he has done here. I think it must be closer to his initial vision, especially with its focus on the new musical numbers and fleshing out of the storylines involving Sandman and Lila and, to a lesser extent, Tish (Dixie’s mother) and Bumpy. While still not quite as narratively cohesive as it could be, the storyline has better balance, feeling as though its desire to portray the true foundation of its context, being The Cotton Club and what lies at its heart, can be better realized.
I thoroughly enjoyed this revisit to The Cotton Club via The Cotton Club Encore
. All the “moments” that I have always found to be its strengths continue to outweigh its weaknesses. I could watch Gregory Hines dance all day long. Fred Gwynne and Bob Hoskings literally steam every scene they are in. Huge shout outs to Loretta McGee and Laurence Fishburne whose contributions are an essential element.
Big thanks to Francis Ford Coppola and Lionsgate on this!
The rating is for violence, language, sensuality and racial epithets.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialog Reproduction:
- DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA
The Cotton Club Encore comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound.
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
According to Lionsgate’s press documentation The Cotton Club, under the supervision of Francis Ford Coppola, recently underwent a restorative process and the results, especially compared to the original home video release, are impressive. This film’s 1.85:1 framed high definition video presentation on Blu-ray looks very good on my 100 inch screen. Colors are tonally balanced with inviting primaries, clean rendering and delineated secondary hues. Fleshtones are appreciably lifelike with discernible texture and natural depiction. The level of visible detail in facial features, hair and clothing during close-ups is noteworthy. Wide angle shots vary in terms of visual depth but most reveal subtle degrees of refinement and fidelity is never in question.
While the film’s elements aren’t the type to yield razor sharp imagery resolution is excellent as the blend of interior shots and sets featured in the story offer clarity, detail and dimension that appear filmic and rewarding. Blacks are noise free, stable and fairly deep. Contrast and brightness are balanced well which enlivens bright scenes and colors while maintaining an appreciable level of visibility and dimension during darker segments. Grain is present and appears undisturbed. The only real nit that I have to pick is that some of the restored footage has a slightly different chromatic aesthetic which makes it noticeable.
Lionsgate is to be commended on this excellent and faithful high definition presentation that brings this entertaining film to home video in its finest light to date.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel mix does a terrific job rendering the film’s soundtrack. Dialog has appreciable vocal character and above average room penetration. This is a predominantly front oriented presentation that delivers a rewarding audio experience. The surrounds are occasionally utilized for atmospheric extension while appropriately applied dynamics and mid to upper level bass combine to provide solidity that enhances effects without sounding unnatural or over processed. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of this audio presentation.
The Cotton Clue Encore
- Introduction to The Cotton Club Encore by Francis Ford Coppola
- The Cotton Club Encore Q&A
- Digital Copy
is co-writer/director Francis Ford Coppola’s lavish, 1930s-era drama, about Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club, which becomes a hotbed of passion and violence as the lives and loves of entertainers and gangsters collide. It comes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring restored high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and a fair supplemental offering that includes insights from the cast/crew. The Cotton Club Encore
is the definitive version of the film and is a must have for fans.
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JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems