Round Midnight is a 1986 American-French musical drama film directed by Bertrand Tavernier and written by Tavernier and David Rayfiel. It stars Dexter Gordon, François Cluzet andHerbie Hancock. Martin Scorsese, Philippe Noiret and Wayne Shorter appear in cameos.
The protagonist jazzman, "Dale Turner", was based on a composite of real-life jazz legends Lester Young (tenor sax) and Bud Powell (piano). While the film is fictionalized, it is drawn directly from the memoir/biography Dance of the Infidels written by French author Francis Paudras, who had befriended Powell during his Paris expatriate days and on whom the character "Francis" is based. The film is a wistful and tragic portrait that captures the Paris jazz scene of the 1950s.
Dexter Gordon was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and won a Grammy for the film's soundtrack entitled The Other Side of Round Midnight in the category for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, Soloist. Herbie Hancock won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score. The soundtrack was released in two parts: Round Midnight and The Other Side of Round Midnight.
Dale Turner, a famous African-American tenor saxophone player in Paris in the 1950s is befriended by Francis, a struggling French graphic designer specialized in film posters, who idolizes the musician and who tries desperately to help him to escape alcohol abuse. As he succeeds, the budding friendship they develop changes their lives forever.
- Dexter Gordon ... Dale Turner
- François Cluzet ... Francis Borler
- Gabrielle Haker ... Berangere
- Sandra Reaves-Phillips ... Buttercup
- Lonette McKee ... Darcey Leigh
- Christine Pascal ... Sylvie
- Herbie Hancock ... Eddie Wayne
- Bobby Hutcherson ... Ace
- Pierre Trabaud ... Francis's Father
- Frédérique Meininger ... Francis's Mother
- Hart Leroy Bibbs ... Hershell
- Liliane Rovère ... Madame Queen
- Ged Marlon ... Beau
- Benoît Régent ... Psychiatrist
- Victoria Gabrielle Platt ... Chan Turner
- Arthur French ... Booker
- John Berry ... Ben
- Martin Scorsese ... Goodley
- Philippe Noiret ... Redon
- Alain Sarde ... Terzian
- Eddy Mitchell ... L'ivrogne au bar du Blue Note
- Billy Higgins ... Drums (Blue Note, Davout Studio)
- Éric Le Lann ... Trumpet (Blue Note)
- John McLaughlin ... Guitar (Blue Note)
- Pierre Michelot ... Bass (Blue Note)
- Wayne Shorter ... Tenor Saxophone (Blue Note), Soprano Saxophone (Davout Studio, Lyon)
- Ron Carter ... Bass (Davout Studio, New York)
- Palle Mikkelborg ... Trumpet (Davout Studio)
- Mads Vinding ... Bass (Davout Studio, Lyon)
- Cheikh Fall ... Percussion (Lyon)
- Michel Pérez ... Guitar (Lyon)
- Tony Williams ... Drums (Lyon, New York)
- Freddie Hubbard ... Trumpet (New York)
- Cedar Walton ... Piano (New York)
Tavernier defied the movie studio by insisting that real-life jazz tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon play the role of Turner. Gordon, who himself played with Bud Powell in Paris in the early 1960s, helped to revise and rewrite the script. The supporting cast is likewise composed of jazz musicians (mainly from the generation which followed Gordon and Powell) such as Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, John McLaughlin, and Wayne Shorter, among others who play the music live throughout the film. In addition to the musicians, the movie stars François Cluzet, Gabrielle Haker, Sandra Reaves-Phillips, Lonette McKee, and Christine Pascal.Round Midnight (soundtrack)
The score for the film was composed by Herbie Hancock. The soundtrack was in two parts - Round Midnight and The Other Side of Round Midnight - released under Dexter Gordon's name and featuring his last recordings, although he does not appear on all tracks. Both albums were produced and arranged by Hancock.
Round Midnight received excellent reviews from critics, and it holds a 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.