""It's The Godfather with music!"" boasted director Francis Ford Coppola when he first pitched this 1984 opus. No, Francis, it really isn't. Attempting to breathe life into the photos of the jazz era's infamous Cotton Club, the Apocalypse Now helmer manages to stage a beautiful film. But he's totally flat-footed when it comes to story.
In '20s Harlem, Brylcreemed cornet-player Richard Gere, Diane Lane's baby-doll moll and Gregory Hines' ambitious hot-stepper squeeze out a living against a backdrop of gangsters that include Bob Hoskins, Nicolas Cage and Laurence Fishburne.
Coppola peps things up with a splash of designer bloodshed and superb dance sequences that almost, but not quite, mask the no-brainer narrative. If you want a real razzle-dazzle mix of music and murder, though, our advice is to head for Chicago.