film poster by Bill Gold
|Directed by||Clint Eastwood|
|Produced by||Clint Eastwood|
|Written by||Joel Oliansky|
|Music by||Lennie Niehaus|
|Cinematography||Jack N. Green|
|Editing by||Joel Cox|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||September 30, 1988|
|Running time||161 minutes|
Bird is a 1988 American biographical film, produced and directed by Clint Eastwood of a screenplay written by Joel Oliansky. The film is a tribute to the life and music of jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker. It is constructed as a montage of scenes from Parker's life, from his childhood in Kansas City, through his early death at the age of thirty-four.
The film moves back and forth through Parker's history, blending moments to find some truth to his life. Much of the movie revolves around his only grounding relationships with wife Chan Parker, Bebop pioneer trumpet player and band leader Dizzy Gillespie, and his influence (both musically and into the world of heroin addiction) on trumpet player Red Rodney.
- Forest Whitaker as Charlie "Bird" Parker
- Diane Venora as Chan Parker
- Michael Zelniker as Red Rodney
- Samuel E. Wright as Dizzy Gillespie
- Keith David as Buster Franklin
- Diane Salinger as Baroness Nica
- Michael McGuire as Brewster
- James Handy as Esteves
- Damon Whitaker as Young Bird
- Morgan Nagler as Kim
- Arlen Dean Snyder as Dr Heath
- Sam Robards as Moscowitz
- Penelope Windust as Bellevue Nurse
- Glenn Wright as Alcoholic Patient (as Glenn T. Wright)
- George Orrison as Patient with Checkers
- Bill Cobbs as Dr Caulfield
In the 1970s, Parker's friend and colleague Teddy Edwards shared his reminiscences of the saxophonist to Oliansky, who had wanted to make a biopic about Charlie Parker starring actor Richard Pryor. The property was originally owned by Columbia Pictures, which traded the rights to Warner Bros. at Eastwood's instigation, in exchange for the rights to what would become Columbia's 1990 Kevin Costner vehicle, Revenge. There was a delay of a few years while the trade was completed, and by then Pryor had lost interest. The film was eventually shot in 52 days for $14.4 million dollars, not counting Eastwood's fee, although in interviews Eastwood sometimes said the film only cost $9 million to make. Locations used for filming include the Sacramento Valley, Los Angeles, and Pasadena in California as well as New York.
Bird received positive reviews from critics, scoring 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. Forest Whitaker's performance as Parker earned him critical acclaim and several awards, including the Best Actor award at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nomination. In addition, the film also won the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association and the Academy Award for Best Sound (Les Fresholtz, Dick Alexander, Vern Poore, Willie Burton).
Initially, when Columbia owned the project, the studio executives wanted to hire musicians to re-record all of Parker's music, largely because most of the original recordings were in mono, and considered of insufficient sound quality to accompany a feature film. Eastwood had some recordings of Parker made by Parker's wife, Chan, from which he had a sound engineer electronically isolate Parker's solos. Contemporary musicians such as Ray Brown, Walter Davis, Jr., Ron Carter, Barry Harris, and Red Rodney were then hired to record backing tracks on modern sound equipment. Dizzy Gillespie was on tour at the time of recording, so trumpet player Jon Faddis was hired to record his parts.
- Hughes, p.139
- Pavlović, Milan (Fall 1988). "Kein Popcorn-Film (Not a Popcorn Film)". steadycam (10): 18–20.
- Interview with Teddy Edwards on ArtistInterviews
- Biskind, Peter (April 1993). "Any Which Way He Can". Premiere (New York City: Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.): 52–60.
- "Festival de Cannes: Bird". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- "The 61st Academy Awards (1989) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-16.