Cadillac Records

Release Date: December 5, 2008

Movie of the Day for Tuesday, November 18, 2008
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Stop! Or I'll shoot my tiny gun!

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
20/31 John Seal Some fine individual performances can't compensate for the film's historical inaccuracies and flawed plotting
125/196 Max Braden Everything about this biopic seems more subdued and laid back than in Ray and Walk the Line.

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In 1994, director Darnell Martin made his film debut with moderate critical success with I Like it Like That. Since then, he has made a name for himself as a director for some of television’s biggest series (Oz, Homicide, Grey’s Anatomy, and Law and Order). Martin makes his return to film in December’s Cadillac Records, a movie that chronicles the rise and fall of the 1950s R&B record label Chess Records.

Adrien Brody (The Piano) stars as Leonard Chess, the co-founder of the Chicago-based Chess Records, who started out selling records from his Cadillac. In the late 1940s, Chess and his brother Phil (Norman Reedus of The Boondock Saints), then working for Aristocrat Records, helped move the label away from black pop and jazz and closer to pure blues music. Then in 1950, the Chess brothers took control of the company, renamed it Chess Records, and helped launch the careers of some of R&B’s most influential artists; Etta May (Beyonce Knowles), Chuck Berry (Mos Def), Muddy Waters (Jeffery Wright) and Bo Diddley, to name a few. In what promises to boast a must-have soundtrack, there will also be the novelty of seeing some of today’s prominent stars playing legendary musical personalities. A potential setback will be if last year’s Walk Hard, the comedy that effectively spoofed the era’s recent biopics (Ray and Walk the Line), still remains in the memories of audiences.

Cadillac Records shouldn’t be confused with Who Do You Love, another film covering Chess Records. Distinguishing the two rival films is the fact that Who Do You Love is a biopic on Chess’s life; Cadillac Records sticks just to the significance of the label (similar to how Tombstone stuck to the event, while Wyatt Earp chronicled the lawman’s life). Who Do You Love crossed the finish line first, making its debut at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, and originally had Cadillac Records distancing itself to 2009. However, Cadillac Records, possessing the bigger cast, bumped up its release date to make a run throughout the holidays (ironically pushing the rival film to 2009 and to likely face the same disappointing fate as Wyatt Earp). (Joel West/BOP)

Vital statistics for Cadillac Records
Main Cast Adrien Brody, Beyonce Knowles, Jeffrey Wright
Supporting Cast Columbus Short, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Cedric the Entertainer, Tammy Blanchard, Norman Reedus, Gabrielle Union, Mos Def
Director Darnell Martin
Screenwriter Darnell Martin
Distributor Sony BMG Films
Awards Awards page for Cadillac Records
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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