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Cadillac Records

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Product Overview

Chronicles the rise of chess records and its recording artists. In 1950s chicago, cadillac records follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of america's musical legends, including muddy waters, leonard chess, little walter, howlin' wolf, etta james and chuck berry.


Studio Sony
SKU 210664877
UPC 043396294660
UPC 14 00043396294660
Format DVD
Release Date 3/20/2012
Rating Rating
Aspect Ratio
Anamorphic Widescreen  2.35:1
Image Award (2009) Beyonce Knowles, Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture,Cadillac Records, Nominee, Outstanding Motion Picture,Cedric the Entertainer, Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture,Darnell Martin, Nominee, Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Theatrical or Television),Jeffrey Wright, Nominee, Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Golden Globe (2009) Beyonce Knowles, et. al., Nominee, Best Original Song - Motion Picture
Review The story about how the white man cheated the African-American out of his rhythm-and-blues heritage for the cash cow known as rock-and-roll is by now the stuff of legend. Heck, Little Richard's been living off that storyline for the last 20 years. Still, the truth about how misplaced immigrants teamed up with the marginalized minorities to create the soundtrack to our post-modern life is rife with obstacles, contradictions, and more than a little anecdotal fantasy. Now comes Cadillac Records, hoping to shed light on Leonard Chess and his Chicago blues-based label. Yet by leaving one essential character out, and manufacturing more than little of its so-called truth, it's hard to tell fact from fiction...As an example of history at its slightest, Cadillac Records is solid, if superficial. The actors are required to add the depth that Martin's script regularly fails to offer. Elsewhere, intriguing elements are left unexplored. Eamonn Walker's Wolf is a major piece of work, and the ex-Oz man's take on the imposing musician is magical. But we don't get enough of it. Instead, Martin chooses to focus more on harmonica ace Little Walter, and while Short is equally good, his character arc is biopic basic. Even Chuck Berry, who seems to be the most whacked out figure in rock-and-roll's tortured history is relegated to clowning most of the time...Yet there is something undeniable about this film. There is a subtle, sublime feeling of watching pop culture folklore being crafted right before our eyes. When Walker wails on Wolf's "Smoke Stack Midnight" or Wright wriggles to Water's seminal track "Hoochie Coochie Man," no fact-checking can stop the sensation. If one remembers this is a movie, and not a documentary, you'll walk away satisfied. But as a tribute to Chess and its importance to modern music, this is a half-baked homage, entertaining but incomplete.
Reviewer Bill Gibron
ReviewRating 7
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review An argument could be made that modern rock 'n' roll was launched not at Sun Records in Memphis, but at Chess Records, 2120 S. Michigan, and its earlier South Side locations since the early 1950s. The Rolling Stones even recorded a song named after the address. The great Chess roster included Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James, Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry and Little Walter. They first made Chicago the home of the blues, and then rhythm and blues, which, as Muddy said, had a baby, and they named it rock 'n' roll..."Cadillac Records" is an account of the Chess story that depends more on music than history, which is perhaps as it should be. The film is a fascinating record of the evolution of a black musical style, and the tangled motives of the white men who had an instinct for it. The Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil, walked into neighborhoods that were dicey for white men after midnight, packed firearms, found or were found by the most gifted musicians of the emerging urban music, and recorded them in a studio so small it forced the sound out into the world...The casting throughout is successful. Columbus Short suggests the building inner torments of Little Walter, and Cedric the Entertainer plays the singer-songwriter Willie Dixon as a creator and synthesizer. Nobody can really play Chuck Berry, but Mos Def does a great duck walk...Eamonn Walker, at 6-foot-1, is three inches shy of the towering Howlin', but he evokes presence and intimidation. Sometimes I'm amazed at actors. Seeing Howlin' Wolf bring danger into the room in this film, you'd never guess Walker started as a dancer, was a social worker, acts in Shakespeare, is married to a novelist. Could any of the regulars at 2120 S. Michigan have guessed they would be instrumental in creating a music that would dominate the entire world for the next 50 years?
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 8
DVD, Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 2.35:1, Dolby Digital (5.1), Dolby Surround Sound, English, Subtitled, French, Dubbed & Subtitled
Product Attributes
Video Format DVD
David Edelstein, New York Magazine The ensemble is stupendous--howlingly great--and the music goes deep.
Ken Lombardo, Cadillac Records is a chart-topping hit! Finally, a film depicting the true origins of rock and roll.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle A satisfying combination of great songs and strong dramatic performances.
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly enjoyable ramble, with a feel for what made the early days of rock as wild as any that followed.
Stephanie Zacharek, Such an exhilarating, spirited piece of work that its embellishments and omissions cease to matter.

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