Francis Ford Coppola’s Second Chance at “The Cotton Club”

I love it when films that were butchered when originally released get a chance to show their true intentions.
The Cotton Club Gregory Hines

After the excess of “Apocalypse Now” and the failure of his studio American Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola had to rein in his budgets and ambitions, having to prove he could still make good films on reasonable budgets, and he did: “The Outsiders”, “Rumble Fish” (a forgotten classic) and “Peggy Sue Got Married”. But “The Cotton Club” seemed to signal a return to what Coppola did best, back to the mob and gritty New York of the past, this time with musical numbers and intertwining stories featuring a black and white cast. I went into the theater back in 1984 with high hopes but came out less than thrilled, thinking it as having some great elements and scenes, but overall not adding up to much.

Well, there was a reason for that. Although Coppola had final cut on the movie, he acquiesced to film distributors who wanted less tapdancing and less of the black cast. Racism, essentially. The film bombed, making $25 million on a $58 million budget. Coppola moved on and forgot about the film until he came across a videotape of his original cut and decided to restore the film as originally intended.

This version called “The Cotton Club Encore” restores 35 minutes of footage. Coppola spent two years and half a million dollars working on this to reflect his original vision. So far the word has been good, saying the extra footage has added a lot to the film, making it a true lost-and-found gem. So far the word has been good (see the review from The Guardian calling it a Masterpiece), making this a true lost-and-found gem. It’s having a limited run in theaters before making its way to DVD and Blu-Ray for deluxe editions.

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