Blu-ray Review: The Cotton Club Encore

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Francis Ford Coppola | CAST: Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Gregory Hines, Maurice Hines, Lonette McKee, Nicolas Cage
RELEASE DATE: December 10, 2019 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD Combo $14.99, DVD $9.99
BONUSES: Introduction by filmmaker, NYFF Q&A
SPECS: NR | 139 min. | Musical crime drama | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby TrueHD 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): 
Movie Audio Video  | Overall 

Francis Coppola’s much-talked about re-vamped version of his 1984 musical crime saga The Cotton Club adds 27 minutes of never-before-seen scenes and musical sequences to the original while excising 12 others.

As he did with his Apocalypse Now Redux versions, Coppola dips back into one of his well-know works with a troubled production history and creates what he proclaims was his original vision of the film. And like Apocalypse, the results in The Cotton Club Encore are up on on the screen and your feelings about them are contingent on your thoughts about the original.

Lonette McKee in The Cotton Club Encore

Don’t’ get me wrong: I’m always psyched to check out any vintage footage from the Coppola archive. But it’s never endearing to hear a filmmaker talk about what should have been when he created his work in the Hollywood system that created him (which allowed him to make the films that defined his career).

That said, The Cotton Club Encore offers a reshaped narrative about the gangsters and entertainers that entered the doors of the fabled Harlem nightclub, focusing more on the musical aspects of the tale and spending less time with the criminal element (though they’re still there and still sort of distracting).

Highlights of Encore include three additional musical numbers, including Lonette McKee singing a stunning version of Lena Horne’s signature “Stormy Weather” and the always-game Jackée serving up the comical number “I Don’t Want You Anymore.” A few other musical sequences that appeared in the original are also tweaked and extended, while a whole bunch of dialogue is similarly nipped and appended.

Again, if you liked the first version, narrative flaws and all (why would James Remar’s gangster Dutch Schultz hire Richard Gere to keep an eye on his girl Diane Lane and not expect him to sleep with her!?), then you’ll likely find this edition a very watchable curio. Encore cannot be recommended for the uninitiated, so new viewers might consider checking out the 1984 version before taking a look at this one. That way, they appreciate even more the additional bits from the now-gone Bob Hoskins, Fred Gwynne and Julian Beck and the awesome-as-ever dancing from the late Gregory Hines and Gwen Verdon.

Buy or Rent The Cotton Club Encore

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.