Cadillac Records

2009-05-29 16:14

What it's about:

The story of how the blues became popular and gave birth to rock and roll begins at a dingy bar on the rough South Side of Chicago in 1947, where an ambitious young Polish emigre, bar owner Leonard Chess (Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody), hires a talented but undisciplined blues combo that includes quiet and thoughtful guitar prodigy Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) and impulsive and colorful harmonica player Little Walter (Columbus Short). Fascinated by the sound of the music, and eager to cash in on the record burgeoning record business, Chess arranges a recording session for Waters. Waters' early recordings start moving up the R+B charts and receiving heavy play.

Chess treats his musicians like family, he buys them a Cadillac when they record their first hit record, although the line between business and personal sometimes causes conflict with his increasingly talented and successful stable of artists. After backing up Muddy on his early recordings, Little Walter becomes a star in his own right, but his quick temper and loud manner often run him afoul of friends and the law. He also finds that the only woman he can talk to is Muddy's girl, Geneva (Gabrielle Union), who struggles to remain loyal despite Muddy's poorly concealed affairs. Big Willie Dixon (Cedric The Entertainer), a songwriter and bandleader, also is a key member of the Chess Records family, as is Howlin' Wolf (Eammon Walker), an intense and proud blues singer who develops a musical rivalry with Muddy.

What the critics have to say:

"Perhaps there were insurmountable legal restrictions. But the movie still serves as a dandy primer for rediscovering a lot of great music."
- Peter Howell, Toronto Star

"Anyone who likes pop music or wonders how bands like the Rolling Stones got rolling will enjoy the ride. "
- Stephen Cole, Globe and Mail

"The story of Chess Records (Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry etc) is a tad episodic, but the cast, including Beyonce, is strong."
- Heat Magazine

"This film is more like a limousine than a Cadillac – it is very long and carries far too many people."
- Sun Online

If you take the ride, you must pay the price.

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