Five Heartbeats

Directed By: Robert Townsend Starring: Michael Wright

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Product Overview

It's 1965, the early days of rock and roll, and five buddies who share the dream of "making music" journey together through three decades. Acting both as a family and sometimes as bitter rivals, they experience success and tragedy in this excellent film. The ground breaking Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle) performs dual roles as director and star. With compelling performances by a cast which includes Leon and Diahann Carroll, The Five Heartbeats is an irresistible combination of music and drama which captures a unique period in musical and American history. Townsend did research for his fictional R&B group by hanging out and travelling with The Dells, an R&B group that has been together for 38 years. The Dells acted as technical advisors on the film.


Studio Foxvideo
SKU 40162103
UPC 024543018766
UPC 14 00024543018766
Format DVD
Release Date 1/22/2002
Rating Rating
Music (General)
Musicals/Music Videos
Race Relations
Theatrical Release
Editors Note
Note Actor-director Robert Townsend came to fame depicting the pitfalls of the Hollywood experience for black actors with his 1987 film HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE. Four years later, he took on the mid-'60s music scene with THE FIVE HEARTBEATS. After doing extensive research with long-lived pop/R&B group the Dells, he painted a cinematic scene of five young friends in the 60s who share the dream of making music. They journey together through three decades, experiencing all the ups and downs show business had to offer, intensified by the difficulties faces by black acts in the era of civil-rights protest. Interacting as everything from a close-knit musical family to occasional bitter rivals, the fictional Five Heartbeats experience both success and tragedy in this excellent film. The multi-talented Townshend functions as both director and star, alongside compelling performances by a cast that includes Leon and Diahann Caroll. Featuring a mix of original songs and classic Motown material, THE FIVE HEARTBEATS is an irresistible combination of music and drama that captures a unique period in American cultural history.
New York Times "...Fundamental sweetness and sincerity....[In cameo, Harold Nicholas's] very presence expands the range of this film..." 03/29/1991 p.C14
Los Angeles Times "...Musically, THE FIVE HEARTBEATS is on target all the way. It's hard to remember a recent film that had so many warm-hearted, rousing, big-souled song numbers..." 03/29/1991 p.F1
Robert Townsend
Michael Wright
Cast & Crew
Diahann Carroll - Actor
Harold Nicholas - Actor
Harry J. Lennix - Actor
Leon - Actor
Michael Wright - Actor
Robert Townsend - Actor
Tico Wells - Actor
Robert Townsend - Director
Bill Dill - Director of Photography
John Carter - Film Editor
Stanley Clarke - Musical Score
Loretha C. Jones - Producer
Wynn Thomas - Production Designer
Robert Townsend - Writer
Keenen Ivory Wayans - Writer
Technical Info
Original Release Date 1991
Catalog ID 2001876
UPC 00024543018766
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 120 minutes
Color Color
Original Language English
Available Audio Tracks English
Aspect Ratio
ReviewSource The Village Voice
Review A propulsive score, spirited choreography by Michael Peters and evocative sets and costumes help Townsend re-create musical history.
ReviewRating 8
Desson Howe, Washington Post ...a giddy mixture of comedy, music and drama.
Jim Whaley, PBS A stunning and exhuberant motion picture. Terrific acting and unforgettable music.
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times Townsend shows a real go for the human truth in his characters.

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