A few words about…™ The Cotton Club – in Blu-ray

If you feel that you've seen this film, you'd be wrong. 4 Stars

It’s a rarity these days of “director’s cuts,” “extended cuts,” and all sorts of miscellaneous re-cuttings of motion pictures, that one arrives that’s beautifully reconsidered, re-cut, and longer….

and it’s far better than the theatrical original.

No need to go into the battles that occurred behind the scenes with The Cotton Club, but for the uninitiated, be aware that the original release did not tell the tale desired by director, Francis Coppola.

Now re-envisioned, the film which runs 138 minutes, seems far shorter than the 129 minute original.

Arriving for the first time on Blu-ray, Stephen Goldblatt’s cinematography can now shine through.

Camera negative, trims, work picture all come together to tell a far more interesting and cohesive tale of the Harlem club in the late 1920s and early ’30s.

For the first time, I’m loving this film, especially the ending, which to me per the editing of the late Barry Malkin and FFC is absolutely magical.

If you feel that you’ve seen this film, you’d be wrong.

Image – 4.75

Audio – 5 (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

28 Comments

  1. Scott Merryfield

    I have this sitting on the shelf, and have really been looking forward to watching it. Glad to know it has the Robert Harris Seal of Approval. 😉 Now I just need to find some time to watch it! Hopefully next week.

    Same here!

  2. Caught this at The Castro in November. Whoever felt it was a good idea to cut Lonette McKee's number of "Story Weather" should be tarred and feathered. It was one of those moments in the movie theater where you felt the entire audience take a breath after her number. It was stunning.

    The film is definitely improved with this version, but I don't feel it rises to the best of Coppola's work. Too many characters and sub-plots that don't really go anywhere, so it still feels very disjointed. The performances, however, are definitely worth the price of this disc.

  3. Bernard McNair

    I did not like this film when I saw it on the original release.
    Looking forward to seeing the new cut as I had always believed that a good movie lurked inside the original cut just waiting to be let out.

    You're more perceptive than I am! I too didn't think much of the film when it first came out but it didn't occur to me that a better film was hiding in the wings. I'll probably buy this disc.

  4. I saw it only once way long ago and shrugged it off. Thought something was missing, given its subject, such as further musical performances. Just got the new edition and look forward to seeing. it.

  5. I completely enjoyed the new edition. I was working as a film buyer for a theatre circuit at the time of its release and saw an industry screening before release. I was very disappointed in the 1984 release and had read all the stories concerning the making of the film. I always wondered if those cuts would have made a better film, IMHO, they do.

  6. I loved this release. Been anticipating a Blu-ray ever since a restoration was first announced, but was very worried it would never make it to physical disc. I think Robert's initial comment that the film actually seems shorter even though it has an extended running time is absolutely true. The pacing is completely altered, entirely for the better. Run to B&N or Amazon and buy this wonderful release! Only caveat: I'd have loved to have a director's commentary track, as Coppola is an effusive and intelligent man whose previous tracks (GODFATHER series, THE CONVERSATION, DRACULA, etc.) were wall-to-wall and loaded with all the details about each film we might possible think to know about. I know from reading a dozen articles how this film was difficult and contentious and how the editing was dictated by non-creative suits, much to the director's distain. Finally, it all worked out well, and I only wish this had been the version that had premiered in 1984 so that it could have found its proper place in Coppola's filmography, popularity-wise.

  7. CC95

    Ridiculous that there is no 4K blu ray.
    Streaming is the WORST way to watch anything, let alone 4K.
    Skinny bitrates reduce the films to the visual equivalent of MP3 vs. FLAC.

    Simply untrue, unless you have skinny broadband service.

  8. john a hunter

    Are you sure about that.
    Even with good broadband connection, I have heard that the bit rate drops down to well below BD level !

    I stream 4K regularly, and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between what iTunes serves up (for example) and the same title on 4K UHD disc. Physical media is definitely higher quality, but it's often a subtle victory and the gap is narrowing.

  9. Buyer beware! There is a Studio-Canal Blu-ray available of The Cotton Club which is the 129 minute version (although the picture and sound quality is quite OK). Make sure you get the right one.

  10. OLDTIMER

    Buyer beware! There is a Studio-Canal Blu-ray available of The Cotton Club which is the 129 minute version (although the picture and sound quality is quite OK). Make sure you get the right one.

    I think that one is locked to region B. This one is also clearly labeled as The Cotton Club Encore.

  11. A mod can certainly step in and shut down this off-topic debate, but before that happens, I'd just like to say. The idea that 4K streaming is automatically inferior just because of the bit-rate is a bit of a fallacy. Blu-ray specs are set it stone and do not change. Streaming constantly evolves to better and and more efficient codecs, so that bitrate is no longer a relevant factor in comparing them. Even 4K UHD disc (which is also static) is a more efficient codec than standard Blu-ray. By the logic that higher bitrate means better quality, Blu-ray would be better quality than 4K UHD disc because Blu-ray has a higher per-pixel bitrate than 4K Disc. You see, 4K has 4 times the resolution of Blu-ray but does not use 4 times the space!

  12. I loved the original version, even though I was fully aware that it was not what Coppola intended. I saw this cut during its brief run at the Nuart and loved it, too. I think it's fair to say that they're substantially different films cut from the same raw materials, and as such, both versions comfortably sit side-by-side on the shelf.

    Mike S.

  13. We watched the BD of the Encore version last night, and both my wife and myself really enjoyed the film. The story flowed well, except for one part where

    Spoiler

    That made things a little disjointed.

    It's been many years since I saw the original cut, and I no longer own the DVD of that version to go back and compare, so I cannot say how much of an improvement this cut was for me. I just do not remember the original enough, except to know I did enjoy that version.

  14. Scott Merryfield

    We watched the BD of the Encore version last night, and both my wife and myself really enjoyed the film. The story flowed well, except for one part where "SPOILER" That made things a little disjointed….

    I saw the film onscreen but don't remember the Spoiler not making sense…hmm. VERY happy for this; I saw the original when it opened and remember seeing things in the trailer that I missed in the film. A great happy ending!!

  15. My wife and I watched this last night, and I really like the Encore cut. SO much talent on display in this film! However, the 4K iTunes stream exhibited some VERY crushed blacks, particularly in night scenes. Has anyone else noticed this? Is this the way the film has always looked or is there an issue here?

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