Bird (1988)

R | 160 mins | Biography | 30 September 1988

Director:

Clint Eastwood

Writer:

Joel Oliansky

Producer:

Clint Eastwood

Cinematographer:

Jack N. Green

Editor:

Joel Cox

Production Designer:

Edward C. Carfagno

Production Company:

Malpaso
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HISTORY

Preceding opening credits, the following statement appears: “‘There are no second acts in American lives.’ F. Scott Fitzgerald.” The following appears before end credits: “Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker died on March 12, 1955. Decades later his contribution to jazz is echoed by musicians everywhere. His legend, the music, lives on. Chan Parker lives today in Paris, France. Her contribution to this film was invaluable. Red Rodney is actively performing today, providing an example of musical excellence and a drug-free life. Dizzy Gillespie remains today at the forefront of modern jazz. He continues to perform internationally, reaching thousands of appreciative fans.”
       Articles in the 1 Nov 1987 LAT and 17 Jan 1988 NYT reported that writer Joel Oliansky’s screenplay about the life of saxophonist Charlie Parker, also known as “Yardbird,” was purchased by producer Ray Stark in 1979-1980 for a production featuring actor Richard Pryor for Columbia Pictures. However, Pryor left the project, and the screenplay was set aside. Years later, actor-director Clint Eastwood became interested in Bird after reading a copy of the script. As reported in the 22 Sep 1988 LAT, Eastwood learned that Columbia wanted a Warner Bros. script titled Revenge (1990, see entry), and asked Warner Bros. to trade it for Bird. According to the 31 Oct 1988 Newsweek, Stark believed Warner Bros. wanted the screenplay as a vehicle for musician Prince.
       The 20 Oct 1987 HR production chart stated that principal photography began on 12 Oct 1987 with locations in Los Angeles and Stockton, CA. ... More Less

Preceding opening credits, the following statement appears: “‘There are no second acts in American lives.’ F. Scott Fitzgerald.” The following appears before end credits: “Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker died on March 12, 1955. Decades later his contribution to jazz is echoed by musicians everywhere. His legend, the music, lives on. Chan Parker lives today in Paris, France. Her contribution to this film was invaluable. Red Rodney is actively performing today, providing an example of musical excellence and a drug-free life. Dizzy Gillespie remains today at the forefront of modern jazz. He continues to perform internationally, reaching thousands of appreciative fans.”
       Articles in the 1 Nov 1987 LAT and 17 Jan 1988 NYT reported that writer Joel Oliansky’s screenplay about the life of saxophonist Charlie Parker, also known as “Yardbird,” was purchased by producer Ray Stark in 1979-1980 for a production featuring actor Richard Pryor for Columbia Pictures. However, Pryor left the project, and the screenplay was set aside. Years later, actor-director Clint Eastwood became interested in Bird after reading a copy of the script. As reported in the 22 Sep 1988 LAT, Eastwood learned that Columbia wanted a Warner Bros. script titled Revenge (1990, see entry), and asked Warner Bros. to trade it for Bird. According to the 31 Oct 1988 Newsweek, Stark believed Warner Bros. wanted the screenplay as a vehicle for musician Prince.
       The 20 Oct 1987 HR production chart stated that principal photography began on 12 Oct 1987 with locations in Los Angeles and Stockton, CA. Production notes in AMPAS library files note that filming also took place at Burbank Studiosdios. Reports varied on the budget: the 17 Jan 1988 NYT cited $7 million, while the 23 May 1988 DV mentioned $10 million, and the 22 Sep 1988 LAT reported $11 million. A 26 Sep 1988 DV article reported Clint Eastwood declaring that the budget was $9.5 million.
       According to the 9 Jul 1988 Billboard and 16 Aug 1988 DV, recorded live performances of Charlie Parker, owned by his common-law wife, Chan Parker, were “lifted from the tapes, refurbished technically, and re-recorded with a fresh rhythm section,” for the film soundtrack.
       The world premiere occurred on 21 May 1988 at the Cannes Film Festival in France, as reported in the 23 May 1988 LAT. According to the 9 Jun 1988 HR, the film received two festival awards: Best Actor for Forest Whitaker, and Superior Technique.
       Items in the 28 Jul 1988 DV and HR reported that before the film’s 28 Sep 1988 proposed release date, executive producer David Valdes attended a hearing with the Classification and Rating Appeals Board (CARA) to appeal an R rating. However, CARA upheld the R rating.
       The 26 Sep 1988 DV reported that the U.S. premiere took place at the New York Film Festival, 26--27 Sep 1988, days before the picture’s New York City release on 30 Sep 1988. As noted in the 11 Oct 1988 DV, the film held its Midwest premiere on 9 Oct 1988, in Kansas City, MO, along with a fundraiser for the Charlie Parker Foundation. Days later, the 10 Oct 1988 DV reported that the film’s Los Angeles premiere was scheduled for 13 Oct 1988 at the Century 14 AMC Theaters in Century City, CA, as a benefit for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) music education program, “Jazz Goes To School,” run by the International Association for Jazz Appreciation. The following day, the picture opened in Los Angeles and Toronto, Canada.
       An article in the 4 Jan 1989 LAT reported that Bird took in a domestic box office gross of $1.5 million. According to studio billing records, the film ultimately grossed $2,181,226 at the domestic box-office, and returned film rentals of $882,454 after years in release.
       The picture was nominated for one Academy Award in Sound.
       End credits also state: “This motion picture is dedicated to musicians everywhere.” End credits acknowledge: “Special Thanks to: The Estate of Charles Parker; Chan Parker; Red Rodney; Dizzy Gillespie; Leonard Feather; Nica de Koenigswarter; Buddy Jones.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Billboard
9 Jul 1988.
---
Daily Variety
23 May 1988
p. 3.
Daily Variety
28 Jul 1988
p. 3.
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1988
p. 16.
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1988
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
10 Oct 1988
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1988
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 1988
p. 3, 54.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Nov 1987
Calendar, p. 5, 44.
Los Angeles Times
23 May 1988
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
22 Sep 1988
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
14 Oct 1988
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jan 1989
Calendar, p. 3.
New York Times
17 Jan 1988
Section A, p. 1.
New York Times
26 Sep 1988
Section C, p. 19.
Newsweek
31 Oct 1988
p. 68.
Variety
18 May 1988
p. 17, 36.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A Malpaso Production
Distributed by Warner Bros., A Warner Communications Company
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d-2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Lighting consultant
Key grip
Grip best boy
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Leadman
Set dresser
Drapery
Standby painter
Set des
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const painter
COSTUMES
Men`s cost supv
Women`s cost supv
Men`s ward
Men`s ward
Women`s ward
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus supv
Mus ed
Mus contractor
Mus consultant
Sideline mus
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Playback
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Process photog
Process projection
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Transportation coord
Scr supv
Prod accountant
Asst to prod
Prod secy
Prod assoc
First aid
Unit pub
Casting asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
“Maryland, My Maryland,” performed by Lennie Niehaus
“Lester Leaps In,” performed by Charlie Parker, Monty Alexander, Ray Brown, John Guerin
“Reno Jam Session,” performed by Lennie Niehaus, James Rivers, Red Rodney, Pete Jolly, Chuck Berghofer, John Guerin
+
SONGS
“Maryland, My Maryland,” performed by Lennie Niehaus
“Lester Leaps In,” performed by Charlie Parker, Monty Alexander, Ray Brown, John Guerin
“Reno Jam Session,” performed by Lennie Niehaus, James Rivers, Red Rodney, Pete Jolly, Chuck Berghofer, John Guerin
“Young Bird,” performed by James Rivers, Pete Jolly, Chuck Berghofer, John Guerin
“I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me,” performed by Charlie Parker, Monty Alexander, Ray Brown, John Guerin
“Why Do I Love You?” performed by James Rivers, Lennie Niehaus
“Moonlight Becomes You,” performed by Ronny Lang, Gary Foster, Bob Cooper, Pete Christlieb, Chuck Findley, Conte Candoli, Rick Baptist, Dick Nash, Bill Watrous, Barry Harris, Chuck Berghofer, John Guerin
“Moose The Mooche,” performed by Charles McPherson, Jon Faddis, Walter Davis, Jr., Ron Carter, John Guerin, courtesy of Spotlite Records, England
“Ornithology,” performed by Charlie Parker, Jon Faddis, Mike Lang, Chuck Domanico, John Guerin, Charlie Shoemake
Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, courtesy of Orfeo International Music GmbH
“Lover Man,” performed by Charlie Parker, Charles McPherson, Jon Faddis, Walter Davis, Jr., Ron Carter, John Guerin, courtesy of Spotlite Records, England
“April In Paris,” performed by Charlie Parker, Barry Harris, Chuck Berghofer, John Guerin, plus strings, courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a Division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
“All Of Me,” performed by Charlie Parker, Monty Alexander, Ray Brown, John Guerin
“Jewish Wedding,” performed by Charles McPherson, Red Rodney, Walter Davis, Jr., John Guerin
“One For Red,” performed by Red Rodney, Mike Lang, Chuck Domanico, John Guerin
“Now’s The Time,” performed by Charlie Parker, Charles McPherson, Red Rodney, Walter Davis, Jr., Ron Carter, John Guerin, courtesy of S. J. Records/Ed Chalpin PPX
“Albino Red Blues,” performed by Red Rodney, Walter Davis, Jr., Ron Carter, John Guerin
“Cool Blues,” performed by Charlie Parker, Walter Davis, Jr., Ron Carter, Johjn Guerin
“Laura,” performed by Charlie Parker, Barry Harris, Chuck Berghofer, John Guerin, plus strings
“Be My Love,” performed by Mario Lanza, courtesy of RCA Victor Red Seal, a Division of BMG Classics
“Parker’s Mood,” performed by King Pleasure, John Lewis, Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke, courtesy of Fantasy Inc.
“This Time The Dream’s On Me,” performed by Charlie Parker, Monty Alexander, Ray Brown, John Guerin
“Ko Ko,” performed by Charlie Parker, Walter Davis, Jr., Ron Carter, John Guerin, courtesy of S. J. Records/Ed Chalpin PPX
“Buster’s Last Stand,” featuring Ronny Lang on alto sax
“Parker’s Mood,” with strings, performed by Charlie Parker, Barry Harris, Chuck Berghofer, John Guerin, plus strings, courtesy of S. J. Records/Ed Chalpin PPX.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 September 1988
Premiere Information:
Cannes Film Festival premiere: 21 May 1988
New York opening: 30 September 1988
Los Angeles opening: 14 October 1988
Production Date:
began 12 October 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 October 1988
Copyright Number:
PA420172
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Prints
Panaflex Cameras and Lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
160
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29174
SYNOPSIS

In 1939 Kansas City, Missouri, young alto saxophone player Charlie “Bird” Parker performs at the Reno Club. However, his rapid and sporadic playing gets him jeered offstage. Moving to New York City, Charlie begins performing at different jazz venues on 52nd Street and meets trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. While Charlie performs with Dizzy, their specific style of jazz becomes popular and is known as “bebop.” One evening, Charlie meets Chan Parker, a dancer and jazz lover. Attracted to Chan, Charlie continually asks her out, but she refuses his advances and moves to Chicago, Illinois. Later, Chan returns from Chicago and confesses she is pregnant with another man’s child. Upset, Charlie leaves for Los Angeles, California, to perform with Dizzy. One evening, Red Rodney, a Jewish trumpet player, approaches Charlie and tells him he is a fan. Later, Charlie and Dizzy’s engagement is cancelled due to a lack of interest in bebop. Charlie stays in Los Angles, but his addiction to drugs and alcohol worsen, and he is hospitalized for eight months. After getting clean, Chan gets Charlie a job at club in New York. When he thanks Chan for her help, she introduces him to her daughter, Kim. Later, Charlie learns that his friend, Brewster, is opening a new club and naming it Birdland after Charlie. In need of work and money, Charlie travels to Paris, France, and finds an audience for jazz and bebop. However, he returns to New York and perform at Birdland. Later, Charlie is reintroduced to trumpet player Red Rodney. Waiting for Birdland to open, Charlie offers Red a ... +


In 1939 Kansas City, Missouri, young alto saxophone player Charlie “Bird” Parker performs at the Reno Club. However, his rapid and sporadic playing gets him jeered offstage. Moving to New York City, Charlie begins performing at different jazz venues on 52nd Street and meets trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. While Charlie performs with Dizzy, their specific style of jazz becomes popular and is known as “bebop.” One evening, Charlie meets Chan Parker, a dancer and jazz lover. Attracted to Chan, Charlie continually asks her out, but she refuses his advances and moves to Chicago, Illinois. Later, Chan returns from Chicago and confesses she is pregnant with another man’s child. Upset, Charlie leaves for Los Angeles, California, to perform with Dizzy. One evening, Red Rodney, a Jewish trumpet player, approaches Charlie and tells him he is a fan. Later, Charlie and Dizzy’s engagement is cancelled due to a lack of interest in bebop. Charlie stays in Los Angles, but his addiction to drugs and alcohol worsen, and he is hospitalized for eight months. After getting clean, Chan gets Charlie a job at club in New York. When he thanks Chan for her help, she introduces him to her daughter, Kim. Later, Charlie learns that his friend, Brewster, is opening a new club and naming it Birdland after Charlie. In need of work and money, Charlie travels to Paris, France, and finds an audience for jazz and bebop. However, he returns to New York and perform at Birdland. Later, Charlie is reintroduced to trumpet player Red Rodney. Waiting for Birdland to open, Charlie offers Red a job touring with him in the South. Although Red is hesitant about how an interracial band might be received, Charlie assures him no harm will come to them. Arriving at their first engagement, Red sees Charlie has advertised him as being a blues singer named “Albino Red.” During the tour, Charlie learns that Red is addicted to heroin and threatens him to stop using drugs. Returning to New York, Charlie and Red perform together for Birdland’s grand opening. Afterward, authorities pick up Red for drug possession. Charlie continues to perform at Birdland and other New York clubs. Chan and Kim move in with Charlie, and he and Chan have two children of their own: son Baird, and daughter Pree. Later, Charlie is arrested for drug possession and put on probation. Charlie loses his cabaret card and is unable to play in New York. Hence, he leaves for Los Angeles for work and reconnects with Dizzy Gillespie, who sees that Charlie is using drugs again. Later, Charlie learns that Pree has died from illness and returns home for her funeral. Depressed by Pree’s death and his faltering career, Charlie tries to kill himself by drinking iodine, but survives. After Chan admits him into a hospital psychiatric ward, she is advised to send Charlie to a state facility for shock treatments. She worries that such treatments might rob Charlie of his creative abilities. After Charlie is released, Chan convinces him to move their family to upstate New York. Charlie later returns to the city for an audition set up by Brewster, but becomes distracted seeing all the former jazz clubs on 52nd Street have been turned into strip clubs. Missing the audition and embarrassed to tell Chan, Charlie goes to the apartment of Baroness Nica, a wealthy jazz music patron, and passes out. A doctor arrives and advises Charlie to go to the hospital, but he refuses. Later as he watches television, Charlie suffers a heart attack and dies at the age of thirty-four. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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