Cadillac Records (2008) Poster

Cadillac Records (2008)

  • Rate: 6.7/10 total 7,515 votes 
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | History | Music | Romance
  • Release Date: 5 December 2008 (USA)
  • Runtime: 109 min
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Cadillac Records (2008)


Cadillac Records 2008tt1042877.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Cadillac Records (2008)
  • Rate: 6.7/10 total 7,515 votes 
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | History | Music | Romance
  • Release Date: 5 December 2008 (USA)
  • Runtime: 109 min
  • Filming Location: Louisiana, USA
  • Budget: $12,000,000(estimated)
  • Gross: $8,195,551(USA)
  • Director: Darnell Martin
  • Stars: Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright and Beyoncé Knowles
  • Original Music By: Terence Blanchard   
  • Soundtrack: Country Blues
  • Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
  • Plot Keyword: Sex | 1950s | African American Music | Chicago Illinois | Gas Station

Writing Credits By:

  • Darnell Martin (written by)

Known Trivia

  • Matt Dillon was originally meant to play Leonard Chess but ultimately couldn’t do the movie. Adrien Brody replaced him.
  • Leonard Chess’ brother, Philip, was his partner in both the night club and Chess Records. However, Philip is never mentioned throughout the film, and only appears in Chess Record scenes.
  • Billy “Roquel” Davis produced Etta James’ records for Chess, not the Chess brothers.
  • Arranger Riley Hampton, who orchestrated all of Etta’s Chess hits, including “At Last,” is not mentioned anywhere in the film.

Goofs: Anachronisms: In one of the "stock" black and white shots of 45's in a records store, part of the logo for the Electric Light Orchestra can be seen at the bottom right.

Plot: Chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists. Full summary »  »

Story: In this tale of sex, violence, race, and rock and roll in 1950s Chicago, "Cadillac Records" follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America's musical legends, including Muddy Waters, Leonard Chess, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James and Chuck Berry.Written by Sony Pictures  


Synopsis: This movie is based on the true story of how a small music recording studio, Chess Records, located on the south side of Chicago, began recording blues music with Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) and Little Walter (Columbus Short) in 1947, and eventually gave birth to rock and roll in 1955 with Chuck Berry (Mos Def). Record producer, Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) has an ear for this different type of music, and believes he can cash in by signing up new talent such as songwriter, Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), Howlin’ Wolf (Eamonn Walker), and Etta James (Beyonce Knowles). Leonard Chess makes all of his artist part of his family and takes care of them. This is not an easy job for him, because they spend a small fortune on booze, drugs, and the high life. When Chuck Berry goes to jail, Leonard is able to find another talented performer, Etta James, to take his place. In the late sixties, as their music goes out of favor, Leonard Chess gets out of the record business.Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)


FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Scott Cameron known as co-producer
  • Petra Hoebel known as co-producer
  • Beyoncé Knowles known as executive producer
  • Andrew Lack known as producer
  • Marc Levin known as executive producer
  • Sofia Sondervan known as producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Joshua Alscher known as Mick Jagger
  • Tim Bellow known as Man in the Caddy (as Timothy Bellow)
  • Tony Bentley known as Lomax
  • Tammy Blanchard known as Isabelle Allen
  • Eric Bogosian known as Alan Freed
  • Marc Bonan known as Keith Richards
  • Adrien Brody known as Leonard Chess
  • Cedric the Entertainer known as Willie Dixon
  • Emmanuelle Chriqui known as Revetta Chess
  • Douglas Crosby known as Policeman (Little Walter beating)
  • Dexter Darden known as Geneva's Teenage Son
  • Veronika Dash known as Blonde Girl
  • Sean Shyboy Davis known as Toothless Hillbilly Little Walter (as Sean Davis)
  • Eshaya Draper known as Charles Waters
  • Shiloh Fernandez known as Phil Chess
  • Jill Flint known as Shelly Feder
  • Erik Frandsen known as Engineer – Present Day
  • Gano Grills known as Slick Pimp
  • Suzette Gunn known as Minnie Ripperton (as Suzette Azariah Gunn)
  • Jordan Haynes known as Pot Strong (as Jordan C. Haynes)
  • William Hill known as Policeman (with the Stones)
  • Mike Hodge known as Bartender
  • Tyler Humphrey known as Muddy – Age 6
  • Osas Ighodaro known as Maid
  • Kevin Jackson known as Mysterious Black Man
  • Albert Jones known as Hubert Sumlin
  • Beyoncé Knowles known as Etta James
  • Rayan Lawrence known as Harmonica Player
  • Chyna Layne known as Pot's Girlfriend Juanita
  • Kevin Mambo known as Jimmy Rogers
  • Mos Def known as Chuck Berry
  • Aaron Munoz known as Manager
  • Wade Mylius known as Bouncer
  • Rebecca Pappa known as Another Blonde
  • Jonathan Earl Peck known as Man Who Rolled 7 (as Jonathan Peck)
  • Q-Tip known as Hip Hop Artist
  • Ginnie Randall known as Muddy's Grandmother
  • Ashlee Ray known as Muddy's Floozy #1
  • Norman Reedus known as Chess Engineer
  • Jake Robards known as Producer – Present Day
  • Jay O. Sanders known as Mr. Feder
  • Columbus Short known as Little Walter
  • Samuel Smith known as Guitarist
  • Valence Thomas known as James Cotton
  • Gabrielle Union known as Geneva Wade
  • Carmen Ziina Vasquez known as Muddy's Floozy #2
  • Eamonn Walker known as Howlin' Wolf
  • Isiah Whitlock Jr. known as Mississippi DJ
  • Jeffrey Wright known as Muddy Waters
  • Angelina Aucello known as Teenybopper (uncredited)
  • Lawrence P. Beron known as Overseer (uncredited)
  • Ryan Curtis known as Picnic Boyfriend (uncredited)
  • Vincent D'Onofrio known as Mississippi DJ (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
  • Seth Donavan known as Chuck Berry Concert Goer (uncredited)
  • John Farrer known as Violinist – Etta's Recording Group (uncredited)
  • Doug W. Goldman known as Trumpet – Etta's Recording Group (uncredited)
  • Evan Hart known as Young Lover (uncredited)
  • Vianca Johnson known as Field Worker (uncredited)
  • Malikha Mallette known as Little Walter's Girlfriend (uncredited)
  • Cerrone may known as Muddy's Band Member (uncredited)
  • Natasha Ononogbo known as Muddy Waters' Girlfriend (uncredited)
  • Catherine Pierce known as Shocked Bystander (uncredited)
  • Elvis Presley known as Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
  • Stephen Seidel known as Officer Brown (uncredited)
  • Derrick Simmons known as Dice Player (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Barry Berger known as additional makeup artist
  • Nikki I Brown known as assistant makeup: Louisiana (as Nikki Brown)
  • Marjorie Durand known as department head makeup
  • Kimberly Kimble known as hair stylist: Beyoncé Knowles
  • Erwin H. Kupitz known as wig maker (as Erwin Kupitz)
  • Tarsha Marshall known as hair stylist
  • Jeffrey Rebelo known as department head hair
  • Barbara Roman known as hair stylist
  • Vincent Schicchi known as special effects makeup
  • Tomasina Smith known as additional makeup artist
  • Francesca Tolot known as makeup artist: Beyoncé Knowles (as Francesca Tolot Marchio)
  • Nicole Tucker known as key hair stylist
  • Tony Ward known as assistant hair: Louisiana
  • Tobe West known as key makeup assistant
  • Colleen Wheeler known as background hair supervisor
  • Louie Zakarian known as special effects makeup designer
  • Christine Domaniecki known as makeup artist (uncredited)

Art Department:

  • Jose Amor known as carpenter
  • Maureen Angelos known as scenic shopman (as Maureen 'Moe' Angelos)
  • Paul Blanchard known as assistant props: Louisiana
  • Gary Boesch known as carpenter
  • Andrew W. Bofinger known as on-set dresser: Louisiana (as Andrew Bofinger)
  • Krzysztof J. Bratun known as scenic foreman
  • Eric Breaux known as set dresser: Louisiana
  • Leni Calas known as property master
  • Gabu Camilo known as third prop (as Gabriel 'Gabu' Camilo Silva Dalglish)
  • Monique Champagne known as set decorator: Louisiana
  • John J. Ciccimarro known as key carpenter (as John Ciccimarro)
  • Kaem Coughlin known as camera scenic
  • Jim 'Bear' Davies known as set dresser
  • Frank DeCurtis Jr. known as set dresser
  • Frank DeCurtis known as set dresser (as Frank DeCurtis Sr.)
  • Peter DeCurtis known as leadman
  • Thomas A. Delillo known as leadman (as Tom Delillo)
  • Mandie DeMeskey known as assistant property master
  • Emily Gaunt known as charge scenic
  • Jon Graubarth known as property master: Louisiana
  • William Groom known as scenic artist (as William A. Groom)
  • David Jennings known as scenic shopman
  • Steve Jones known as construction coordinator: Louisiana
  • Michael Kall known as foreman carpenter (as Mike Kall)
  • Jon Kim known as props
  • Beth Kuhn known as scenic artist
  • Eric Kutner known as shop electric
  • Matthew Milstein known as additional props
  • Scotty Morris known as leadman: Louisiana
  • Kate Noll known as art department production assistant
  • Kevin C. Reidy known as key construction grip (as Kevin Reidy)
  • Pierre Rovira known as construction coordinator
  • Luigi Scarcella-Perino known as storyboard artist
  • Lee Shevett known as best boy construction grip
  • Rodney Sterbenz known as on-set dresser
  • Patrick Taistra known as construction grip (as Pat Taistra)
  • Will Watkins known as art department coordinator (as William H. Watkins)
  • Emily Whitaker known as set dresser: Louisiana
  • Denis Zack known as set dresser
  • Will Zinser known as art department assistant: Louisiana




Production Companies:

  • LightWave Entertainment (Louisiana Unit)
  • Parkwood Pictures
  • Sony Music Film

Other Companies:

  • Caballero Casting  casting: location
  • Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment  camera dollies
  • Columbia Records  soundtrack
  • Comp Edge Media  product placement consulting (as April Freeman)
  • DitlevFilms  end title sequence
  • Film Finances  completion guarantor
  • Helen Uffner Vintage Clothing  special thanks (vintage clothing rentals)
  • Hollywood Trucks  entertainment transportation
  • Music World Music  soundtrack
  • Sony Pictures Stock Footage  stock footage


  • Sony Pictures Entertainment (2009) (Japan) (theatrical)
  • Sony Pictures Releasing (2009) (Spain) (theatrical)
  • Sony Pictures Releasing (2009) (UK) (theatrical)
  • TriStar Pictures (2008) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2009) (Belgium) (DVD)
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2009) (Belgium) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD)
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2009) (USA) (DVD)
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2009) (USA) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Sony Pictures Releasing (2009) (Argentina) (all media)



Other Stuff

Special Effects:

  • Base FX (visual effects)

Visual Effects by:

  • Jennifer Basnyat known as additional effects
  • Christopher Bremble known as representative: Base FX (as Chris Bremble)
  • Molle DeBartolo known as digital intermediate coordinator
  • Robert Lopuski known as visual effects supervisor
  • Tom Mayclim known as scanner/recorder
  • Nick Paulozza known as scanner/recorder
  • Mark A. Kolars known as on-set supervisor (uncredited)

Release Date:

  • USA 5 December 2008
  • Ireland 20 February 2009
  • Spain 20 February 2009
  • UK 20 February 2009
  • Germany 23 April 2009
  • Hungary 27 April 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • Iceland 29 April 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • Australia 30 April 2009
  • Sweden 8 May 2009
  • Italy 29 May 2009
  • Thailand June 2009 (Phuket Film Festival)
  • Brazil 23 June 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • Belgium 7 July 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • Netherlands 7 July 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • Japan 15 August 2009
  • Argentina 21 October 2009 (DVD premiere)

MPAA: Rated R for pervasive language and some sexuality



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on March 30, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , , , , .


  1. jamescollins-4 from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    Saying Leonard Chess discovered Etta James, Muddy Waters, Little Walterand Howlin' Wolf is like saying George Washington discovered America.They all recorded in studios before they recorded at Chess. Accordingto this movie, Muddy and Willie don't fly to England until 1967. It was1958; ask Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page among others. Notonly does this movie get a lot wrong by misconstruing the facts, itleaves out a couple the bigger players like Sonny Boy Williamson andBig Bill Broonzy. If you want to hear Etta at her best, listen to thelive version of "Baby, What You Want Me To Do". Beyonce couldn't touchthat. Spike Lee could do this movie with the same actors (exceptBeyonce, please use Sharon Jones) and win a Grammy.

    The real story of what these people went through doesn't need to bedramatized or exaggerated, it's a great story as is. Read some books.

  2. Davo Sambo from United Kingdom
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    Pretty much everything in this movie is the work of fiction. It remindsme of one of those Simpsons episodes where a TV studio does a biopicand makes up half the story for 'dramatic effect'. But this is evenworse- honestly it was bad enough that the stories were fictional, butthey are also just an insult to the people (for some strange reason(!)though all except the white studio owner that is, who was a hopelessromantic, who was also apparently the pioneer of the Chicagoblues…all things to all men. He was a saint, everyone else, themusicians were anything but(!)) Let's get some facts clear- LeonardChess set up the company with his brother, after working at anothercompany Aristocrat Records. It was here they worked with Muddy Waters.So no- Muddy didn't meet Little Walter on the street and bring him intohis house. And no, little Walter didn't have the hots for Muddy's wifeGeneva. Although Leonard Chess was very much hands on when he startedthe company, by all accounts the guy who really pioneered the classicsound of the records was Willie Dixon. Who is criminally underused andtreated as a one trick pony who could only write blues songs. He leftin the late 50's to work at Cobra records after being underpaid byChess- listen to those Cobra records and those at Chess- they soundpretty similar right? That's because Willie Dixon was the pioneer-Leonard Chess was the man stuck in the past.

    One example of the film's dreadful portrayal of the individuals is thefictional scene where Muddy Waters meets Leonard Chess (ignoring theirprior recording work at Aristocrat records). Little Walter is going toshoot another harp player who has hit him, and Muddy stands in his way.Yet the only story remotely like this in REALITY is when a friend ofLittle Walter's told his wife to leave a club, and she sat by Howlin'Wolf and refused to go. Little Walter was performing on stage, and hadseen Howlin' Wolf get his gun out. He jumped down stage and told Wolfthat if he was going to shoot his friend, he'd have to shoot him. Helater arranged a meeting between his friend and Wolf, who in factbecame friends despite the altercation. Which is why this movie is sofrustrating- the REAL lives of these people is nothing short offascinating, exciting and a great background to their music. By allaccounts Little Walter was a bit of a loose cannon, but he was also areal person- not a one-dimensional madman who was out to destroyhimself and everyone else around him. The story told in the movie iseverything that is wrong with Hollywood- overblown, turgid and full ofdreadful 'emotional' scenes (everything with Brody and Beyonce is soclichéd and hammed up that its cringe worthy). While the story here isjust dull, the real stories have managed to fill biographies dedicatedto each of these artists.

    Some more inaccuracies; Little Walter never shot someone just fortouring under his name- once again he was no angel, but neither does itseem was he a murderer as the movie suggests. Howlin' Wolf actuallystayed with Muddy Waters when he first moved to Chicago- and sometimesthey were friends, others professional rivals. Yet Muddy is chosen tobe some kind of protagonist who we are supposed to feel sympathy forwhen another man tries to take his crown. Even worse some of the MOREfascinating characters (with all due respect to Leonard 'bore fest'Chess and Muddy Waters) of Bo Diddley, Sonny Boy Williamson II, IkeTurner or Jackie Brenston are completely ignored. Because these peoplewere irrelevant- Chuck Berry invented Rock N Roll music all on hislonesome and no one else laid the groundwork for that (an especiallycontrived piece of storytelling when you consider that these guysrecorded their seminal records at Chess.) But worst of all is the lovestory. The entire second half of the movie is dedicated to Etta Jamesand Leonard Chess. Who by the way never had any kind of love affair-and neither did they speak like buffoons to each other about their'feelings'. Etta James had already been a successful star before Chess-her career if anything went down hill when she joined. One of the moreannoying things is that the actors do their own singing- few of themare up to the task. Beyonce is simply dreadful as Etta James vocalimitator. On a microcosm it is a perfect representation of why this isan awful movie. Beyonce's voice is overblown, she has no ability tocontrol her vocal range without trying to jump from top to bottom everytwo seconds, and ultimately all the soul she tries to put on is clearlyjust that- put on. She doesn't have the understatement of Etta, theability to lull you into a false sense of security before taking hervoice from 0-60 in a second, and neither does she have that almostprimal quality that Etta had back then. Like this movie, Beyonce'sperformance is overblown and lacks any character or soul.

    I understand that some liberties might be taken with a story. Forexample, for what it is the Temptations biopic is enjoyable- yes thereare discrepancies and some things that should have been more central tothe story, but it did a good impression of the music and the storiesbehind them. Cadillac Records however is like the He-Man Masters of theUniverse of music biopics- it has little to do with the source materialexcept sharing the names and likenesses of the characters, but anyrepresentation of the source material is superficial at best. Andthat's the only word that really can describe this movie- superficial.You have been warned.

  3. Danusha Goska (
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    "Cadillac Records" is a fun, fast, flashy introduction to the world ofChess Records. In the 1950s, Leonard Chess, a Polish-born Jew inChicago, along with his brother Phil (not seen in this film) produced"race" records by African American blues and rock and roll legends likeMuddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry and Etta James.

    These artists' work had huge impact on popular music; the RollingStones are shown on a pilgrimage to Chess Studio. Their music is greatand is played all but non-stop on the soundtrack, which is a very goodthing. Flashy glimpses into the glamorous styles of the 1950s and 60sinclude loving looks at the many Cadillacs Chess gives as gifts to hisstar performers.

    Jeffrey Wright is quietly compelling as Muddy Waters. Mos Def is acharming Chuck Berry; he really communicates the charisma that Berryexuded to his adoring female fans. Eamonn Walker is terrific, andappropriately intimidating, as Howlin' Wolf. Walker electrifies thescreen with his every morsel of screen time; I wish that after they'dfinished "Cadillac Records," they had just kept the sets up and keptthe cameras running and began a biography of Howlin' Wolf with Walkerin the lead. Beyonce Knowles is very beautiful and pays worthy tributeto Etta James, the singer she plays.

    "Cadillac Records" feels a bit rushed, and not as deep and probing asit could have been. Perhaps much backstory was cut out? A shame,because Adrien Brody, a brilliant and compelling actor, is not givenenough to do.

    So much more could and should have been said about Chess the man andhis motivations, and the complex relationship he had with his singers.There is the story that Chess put Muddy Waters to work painting hisceiling. Some accused him of paternalism; curious viewers are advisedto pick up Nadine Cohodas' book "Spinning Blues into Gold: The ChessBrothers and the Legendary Chess Records." Also, "Cadillac Records"can't avoid the clichés inherent in music biopics: the innocentcharacter is introduced to drugs for the first time, and is ruined bythem; the self destructiveness of brilliant people, the exhilarating,brutal, rags-to-riches-to-obscurity trajectory of show biz careers. Forall that, "Cadillac Records" is fun and it makes you want to learn moreabout an important cultural moment in American history.

  4. Michael Fargo from San Francisco
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    While this film lacks an original framework (it's "Ray" and "La Bamba"and "Hot Wax" and "Why Do Fools Fall in Love"….), both the subject–aseminal recording label–and the performances make this electrifyingentertainment.

    I can't speak to the accuracy of its historical facts regarding LeonardChess' exploitation of some of music's largest figures, but thescreenplay zooms along and takes us with it. Jeffrey Wright finallygets a role that hopefully will secure his stature. It's overdue. AsMuddy Waters his towering strength both as a character and an actor arevery impressive here. As well, the entire supporting cast (and it's alarge cast) really rise to the occasion. Columbus Short as LittleWalter and Gabrielle Union as Water's wife are equally impressive. Andin smaller roles, Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf and Mos Def as ChuckBerry nearly steal the show.

    I've never been much of a fan of Adrien Brody, but in the first half ofthe film, he's quite effective. It's only when Beyoncé Knowles arrivesthat he stumbles, and who can blame him. Ms. Knowles takes asensational role and scorches the screen. As the conflicted andtroubled Etta James, there's a scene on a livingroom floor in front ofa fireplace that should win Ms. Knowles many awards. And we're given agenerous helping of sensational James' track very well covered by Ms.Knowles.

    When we watch America's taste in music change–both before and afterthe centerpiece of this story–we're at first exhilarated at thediscovery of this "new" form of music, and when it wanes and the livesthat were propelled to stardom flag, we feel an enormous sadness. Butwhat we know today–that these individuals became legends–is of greatconsolation.

    I don't care that the structure is straightforward. The recreation ofthe period and it's attitudes are spot on, and the cinematography byAnastas N. Michos make the film rise above any weakness in the script.

    Then, there's the soundtrack….

  5. Turfseer from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    Cadillac Records is really the story of Chess Records founded by abusinessman named Leonard Chess who signed some of the biggest blackentertainers in the music business during the 50s and 60s. SupposedlyChess Records came to be known as Cadillac Records due to Chess'spenchant for paying his musicians with Cadillacs and not cash.

    I've read that there were quite a few liberties taken with thehistorical record in composing the screenplay. This is particularlytrue of Leonard Chess (played by a miscast Adrien Brody) whopurportedly short-changed the musicians who were under contract to him(the Chess in "Cadillac Records" is more of a good-natured cheerleaderwho always tries to be a great friend to the musicians he hires).

    The chief flaw of Cadillac Records is that it doesn't have a centralprotagonist. Just as we're getting used to Muddy Waters as the maincharacter, he's supplanted by Little Walter and Howlin Wolf. Thensuddenly Chuck Berry takes the spotlight only to be replaced by EttaJames. Unfortunately, the shelf life of musicians (and even big timemusicians) is not very long–usually only a few years in the spotlight.

    Mos Def is excellent as a wild and creative Chuck Berry but his screentime is much too short for such a seminal figure. Each of the four maincharacters have one or two things that happen to them that's quiteinteresting. With Chuck Berry, it's the fact that he was arrested forviolating the Mann Act–having sex with underage girls and travelingover interstate lines. Little Walter ends up shooting a man for simplyusing his name in a musical group (I couldn't understand why there wasno investigation into that shooting). In addition to Muddy Water'swomanizing, there's also some attention paid to his financial problemsthat occurred after he no longer was churning out hit records.

    While Beyonce looks real fine as Etta James, her acting is a bit overthe top as she portrays the singer's descent into heroin addiction. Ididn't buy Leonard Chess's flirtation with Etta James and Brody andBeyonce simply have no chemistry together.

    Cadillac Records is narrated by songwriter Willie Dixon played byCedric the Entertainer. The film needs a narrator to compensate for thelack of a strong story arc. Nonetheless, Cadillac Records is worthseeing for the music and the recreation of a bygone era. Just don'texpect any drama that will knock your socks off!

  6. MisterWhiplash from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    It's hard to get a feel for a specific time and period in movies letalone an actual mood of a particular music. The best bio-pics onmusicians tend to get it just about right (Bird, Sid & Nancy, TheDoors, Walk the Line) even if the films aren't great or, even worse,have those tired old conventions of real-life people fit in tidyfashion for a 2-hour storyline. Sometimes all we can hope for is thatthey get the mood right, and even that isn't attained; some years backthe wildly over-praised Ray had strong performances but, to me, didn'treally capture that feel of what it was like to be in the midst ofsomething really spectacular- we only saw it being great for RayCharles (not that his music didn't help the movie, somewhat besides thepoint).

    There's an attitude to a kind of music, whether it's punk or jazz orpsychedelic rock or even in "wtf" mode in I'm Not There. The best thingabout Cadillac Records, the thing that will have me go back and watchit again more than anything, is that it captures what it was like to bearound the one of the significant blues explosions in America. Therewas always blues in the US in the 20th century, but it grew steadily,out of sorrow and bad days and nights and hate and love gone bad orgood for African Americans. Cadillac Records covers some of the crucialblues artists- Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry (thecross-over), Willie Dixon, Etta James- and how their personalities wereshaped by whatever was around them, and then into the songs. We may notget an entire life story out of all those in the film, but unlike Walkthe Line or Ray we don't need it at all to know these people, or thecharacters.

    The actors, it should be said, really do a lot of heavy lifting here.The music, it goes without saying, is spectacular and wonderful andoften shown as developing out of a myriad of things (frustration,sadness, joy, craziness, anguish, love), but the script does followsome of those lines that are troublesome in bio-pics (one character,Little Walter, is the proverbial black sheep and that's almost all heis, and there's the obvious dippings in-and-out of relationshipthings).

    So, the actors fill in the gaps in the formula, and make it far moreenjoyable and full of life than it might have in other hands; this isthe wisdom of the director Darnell Martin, usually a TV director. Hecasts not entirely on if they exactly fit the original people, but ifthey got the right stuff for the particular person: Muddy Waters, thereal bad-ass of the group and the real main character of the story, isgiven powerhouse form by Jeffrey Wright in every frame; BeyonceKnowles, while hardly the worst thing in Dreamgirls, completely redeemsherself and then some as Etta James, going all out in a full-fleshedout dramatic performance (how well she sings is a given); ColumbusShort, given the walking cliché of Little, takes it for everything it'sworth, and it is never less than interesting; Eaommon Walker (from Oz)is great as Howlin' Wolf in any scene; Mos Def finds the line ofhamming it up and playing it for real for Chuck Berry, and makes itwork all the way; Adrien Brody, as the token white main player, isgiven not a lot to work with either, but is also riveting andcaptivating and a reminder of why he won the Oscar years back.

    But with all this gushing about the actors, I shouldn't forget aboutthe music, the blues, all of it lovingly depicted (maybe at times toolovingly- Cedric's narration) while also in rightful critical form onhow the blues got completely ripped off by any (arguably talented) rockband waiting in the wings. You can feel the blues dripping off thescreen in some scenes in the first half of the film, the scenes withWaters playing in the club or just in his bedroom, or Chuck Berryplaying on stage with a mixed crowd, or the dialog in certain scenes.As a fan of the blues, it hit its target right on spot while hopefullyconverting some who don't know Muddy Waters or Howlin Wolfs' catalogslike Ray Charles. One more cliché to note, a positive one: it gets youwhistling as you leave the theater and tapping your feet at your seat.That's good enough sometimes.

  7. gerard herzhaft ( from villeurbanne, france
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    As a piece of entertainment this movie may be OK. But why take REALnames of REAL people (some of them fortunately are still living) totell a story which, for the most part, is completely inaccurate. IMDbreviewer Davo Sambo has rightly pointed out the most blatantinaccuracies that this film carries. But as I have seen and met most ofthe artists involved in the plot (and for some of them – like Muddy whowent dining at my home in Lyon (France) – I've had the fortune to knowthem personally) what worries me the most is that their personnalityare also very inaccurate. For instance, Muddy who had an incrediblecharisma is portrayed here essentially as a very tepid character whothinks mostly to chase women. And Howlin' Wolf – a tough man certainlybut a very bright and articulate one – is here portrayed as theterrorizing Wolf he PLAYED on stage and never out stage. The true storyof the Chess saga (and the Chicago blues) is yet to be told properly

  8. infinitylies from United Kingdom
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    The trouble with these kind of movies is that they will never satisfythe purists among us. OK so maybe it glosses over the facts and makesthe history all shiny and Hollywood, but I will see how many peoplewill come away from this movie WANTING to find out more about thehistory of blues.

    So what if its not perfect, if you want a perfect history you will goand buy a documentary on the subject. I want to be entertained when Iwatch a movie not sit there and critique history.

    I think all the performances in the movie are convincing and great. Iespecially loved Beyonce, she just seems to ooze talent, although theon-screen time is shorter compared to Dreamgirls, she is extremelycommanding.

    As for the covering Etta's song, these are outstanding. I am in lovewith the songs all over again, and in love with these versions.

  9. Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci (dtb) from Whitehall, PA
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    Anyone remember those old K-Tel compilation albums with the hitsslightly sped up so the K-Tel folks could pack in more songs? CADILLACRECORDS (CR) gives a similar treatment to the story of Chess Records,nicknamed "Cadillac Records" because the Polish-American Chessbrothers, Leonard and Phil (Adrien Brody and Norman Reedus, reunitedfrom the film SIX WAYS TO Sunday), would give the artists Caddies asrewards — out of the artists' own royalties! Chess Records got themusic of Muddy Waters, Etta James, Chuck Berry, and other seminal R&Bperformers out to the general public, climbing the charts as what werethen called "race records." Perhaps because of time and/or moneyconstraints, writer/director Darnell Martin seems to rush through theChess stars' highs (sometimes literally, with scenes of drug and/oralcohol abuse) and lows, forcing her to condense her subjects' dramaticlife stories to the point where they don't even seem to age (other thana few perfunctory silver streaks visible in Brody's hair late in thefilm) despite the indication that years have passed. Even the Chessbrothers' own story is only half-told, with the focus being on Leonardas Phil is rendered all but invisible. Heck, for half the film, Ithought Phil was just another sound engineer, since we in the audienceonly ever see him during recording sessions! That said, I still found alot to like about CR. I was riveted and moved by the events and theperformances, and the musical numbers kick butt; I want the soundtrack(maybe even the original versions of the songs :-))! Jeffrey Wrightcommands the screen as Muddy Waters, who becomes Chess Records' firststar, complete with groupies. He comes home one night to find wifeGeneva (sympathetically played by Gabrielle Union) with a baby in herarms — left there by a fan who says Muddy's the father. Mos Def addssly humor as Chuck Berry. Eamonn Walker is downright scary as Muddy'srival, Howlin' Wolf. Columbus Short breaks your heart and drives youcrazy all at once as Little Walter, whose lack of a mother orself-discipline proves to be his tragic flaw. Beyoncé Knowles shows shehas range as both an actress and a singer in her fiery, heartrendingportrayal of the talented but troubled Etta James. Leonard tries tohelp Etta to learn to "sing the blues, not live it," but with Etta'semotional baggage, that's easier said than done. Things only get morecomplicated when she and Leonard become attracted to each other despitehis having a sweet, pretty wife, Revetta (Emmanuelle Chriqui). I'm notsurprised that in real life, Etta herself gave her blessing toBeyoncé's soulful rendition of "At Last," the ultimate make-out songand Presidential inauguration anthem! :-) Although Leonard Chess isalmost more like a host here than a well-drawn character, Brodynevertheless works well with the cast and has great chemistry withBeyoncé. In fact, he gets a good amount of on screen love action,including a nude scene with the fetching Chriqui! :-)

  10. Douglas Young (the-movie-guy) from Memphis, Tennessee
    30 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

    (Synopsis) This movie is based on the true story of how a small musicrecording studio, Chess Records, located on the south side of Chicago,began recording blues music with Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) andLittle Walter (Columbus Short) in 1947, and eventually gave birth torock and roll in 1955 with Chuck Berry (Mos Def). Record producer,Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) has an ear for this different type ofmusic, and believes he can cash in by signing up new talent such assongwriter, Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), Howlin' Wolf (EamonnWalker), and Etta James (Beyonce Knowles). Leonard Chess makes all ofhis artist part of his family and takes care of them. This is not aneasy job for him, because they spend a small fortune on booze, drugs,and the high life. When Chuck Berry goes to jail, Leonard is able tofind another talented performer, Etta James, to take his place. In thelate sixties, as their music goes out of favor, Leonard Chess gets outof the record business.

    (My Comment) This story is not a documentary of Chess Records, but astory about their music. The movie title, 'Cadillac Records,' comesfrom the fact that Leonard Chess would buy his musicians a new Cadillacwhen they recorded their first hit record and for each new hit. Whatthe artists didn't know was that the cars were being paid from theirrecord royalties. Leonard Chess treated his artists as family, and theline between business and family sometimes causes conflict betweenthem. If you go to see Beyonce in the movie, you may be disappointed,because she only has a limited amount of screen time with about 3songs. However, you won't be disappointed by her performance and thatof Jeffrey Wright. They make you believe they are Etta James and MuddyWaters, and they actually sing their wonderful songs in the movie. Thefilm can only tell a small part of each artist's story in short scenes,but they are very powerful scenes. (Sony Pictures, Run Time 1:48, RatedR)(8/10)

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