Bird


2h 41m 1988
Bird

Brief Synopsis

Saxophone great Charlie Parker builds a career in jazz while fighting drug addiction.

Film Details

Also Known As
Bird: El saxofonista
MPAA Rating
Genre
Biography
Music
Release Date
1988
Production Company
Robert Wayne Harris
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD)
Location
Stockton, California, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA; Burbank Studios, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 41m

Synopsis

A biography of jazz saxaphonist Charlie "Yardbird" Parker.

Crew

Edward Aiona

Property Master

Dick Alexander

Sound

Monty Alexander

Other

Donah Bassett

Negative Cutting

Chuck Berghofer

Music

Kathryn Blondell

Hair

Larry Boyd

On-Set Dresser

Ray Brown

Music

Willie Burton

Sound

Judy Cammer

Set Designer

Edward C Carfagno

Production Designer

Ron Carter

Music

Robert Christenson

Wardrobe

Michael Cipriano

Assistant Editor

Virginia Cook-mcgowan

Sound Editor

Joel Cox

Editor

Walter Davis

Other

Joe Day

Special Effects

Nica Dekoenigswarter

Assistant

Nica Dekoenigswarter

Consultant

Keith Dillin

Transportation Coordinator

Chuck Domanico

Music

Teri E. Dorman

Sound Editor

Clint Eastwood

Producer

Jay N Engel

Adr Editor

Dan Falkengren

Grip

Joe Fama

Foreman

Leonard Feather

Assistant

Leonard Feather

Consultant

Robert Fernandez

Music

Patti Fidelibus

Music Contractor

Les Fresholtz

Sound

Jack Garsha

Color Timer

Bill Gay

Props

Dizzy Gillespie

Consultant

Dizzy Gillespie

Assistant

Dee Dee Goldner

Sound Editor

Jack N Green

Director Of Photography

John Guerin

Music

Michael Hancock

Makeup

Bill Hansard

Other

Barry Harris

Other

Donald Harris

Music Editor

Olivia Harris

Casting Associate

Robert Wayne Harris

Cable Operator

Robert G Henderson

Sound Editor

Leroy Hershkowitz

Lighting Technician

Deborah Hopper

Costume Supervisor

David M Horton

Sound Editor

Judi Hoyt

Assistant

Kelly Hudson

Construction

Phyllis Huffman

Casting

Joseph A Ippolito

Sound Editor

Buddy Jones

Assistant

Buddy Jones

Consultant

L Dean Jones

Assistant Director

Lola Kemp

Hair

Linda Sony Kinney

Other

Ronnie Lang

Music

Norman Langley

Camera Operator

Robert Lawless

Other

David R Lawson

Other

Marvin E. Lewis

Boom Operator

Bruce Logan

Photography

Michael Maurer

Production Accountant

Nancy Mcardle

Wardrobe

Jack E Mclean

Electrician

Charles Mcpherson

Music

Joe Mendoza

Other

Dennis C Modes

Video Playback

Alan Robert Murray

Sound Editor

Michael A. Muscarella

Construction Coordinator

Hal Nelson

Dolly Grip

Lloyd Nelson

Script Supervisor

Walter Newman

Sound Editor

Lennie Niehaus

Music Supervisor

Lennie Niehaus

Music

Joel Oliansky

Screenplay

John Oliver

Music

Chan Parker

Assistant

Chan Parker

Consultant

Charlie Parker

Music

Victor Perez

Lighting Technician

Vern Poore

Sound

Marcia Reed

Photography

Mark Rich

Props

Tony Rivetti

Assistant Camera Operator

Red Rodney

Music

Red Rodney

Consultant

Tom Rooker

Production Associate

Thomas Roysden

Set Decorator

Charlie Saldana

Key Grip

Marsha Scarbrough

Assistant Director

T. Daniel Scaringi

Grip

Charlie Shoemake

Other

Sabrina Simmons

Assistant Camera Operator

Antoinette Simmrin

Location Manager

Mike Spehar

Electrician

Tom Stern

Consultant

Igor Stravinsky

Music

Alfred Tieg

Wardrobe

David Valdes

Executive Producer

David Valdes

Production Manager

Ciro Vuoso

Foreman

Brooke Henderson Ward

Sound Editor

Steve Wax

Music

Walter I Williams

Dolly Grip

Marshall Winn

Sound Editor

Glenn T Wright

Costume Supervisor

Tena Yatroussis

Assistant Director

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Film Details

Also Known As
Bird: El saxofonista
MPAA Rating
Genre
Biography
Music
Release Date
1988
Production Company
Robert Wayne Harris
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD)
Location
Stockton, California, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA; Burbank Studios, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 41m

Award Wins

Best Sound

1988

Articles

Bird (1988)


By the time Clint Eastwood made Bird in 1988, he was a box office institution, but hardly an artist. He'd directed a dozen films, ranging from provocative pulp (Play Misty for Me [1971], High Plains Drifter [1973]) to, more prevalently, action trash (Firefox [1982],Sudden Impact [1983],Heartbreak Ridge [1986]), but in contrast to the other movie stars-turned-auteurs of his generation (Beatty, Redford, Newman), he seemed, behind the camera, neither subtle nor Oscar®-bound. Perhaps only a bit more than a Charles Bronson who could read scripts and knew where to put a camera, Eastwood seemed as if he might've been content rapping out Dirty Harry sequels forever, and never try for more.

Little did we realize. Bird is where the Eastwood Era truly begins; since then, he has become a world-class filmmaker, with at least one unalloyed masterpiece, Unforgiven (1992), to mark his place in history for good, and a dozen other serious if less consistent films since (mixed with junk like 2002's Blood Work) that nonetheless peg him as a major American voice. There was no mistaking Bird for anything but a work of rousing ambition and heartfelt wisdom: a darkling biopic of jazz martyr Charlie Parker, which is in a shot as far away from the familiar Eastwood gunslinging scenarios as the filmmaker could get without just making a flat-out musical.

Hardly dramatic or even eventful, Parker's life nonetheless fulfills a standard modern biopic format: the burn-bright-but-half-as-long James Dean paradigm, in which a young cultural icon rises to his or her medium's eminence like an angel and then dies far too soon. It can be a deeply unsatisfying narrative idea, and Eastwood seems to have realized the popular arc's shortcomings, never trying to squeeze our sympathies or milk the tragedy. Instead, his film is like a terrarium of doomed crepuscular creatures struggling in vain to extend their preordained lifespans. It's possible that no Hollywood film since the '50s is as dark as Eastwood's dirge, shot as it is not on real-&-gritty city streets (so it appears) but on shadowy studio sets, giving the film a claustrophobic, bluesy-dreamy airlessness, as if the film's entire world is just one big, smoky, low-ceilinged nightclub. The structure of the story (screenplay by unsung TV vet Joel Oliansky) roves around freely in Parker's adult years, and does not indulge dramatic peaks, but, rather, it sort of drifts, as the heroin-addled Parker does, from city to city, gig to gig, one meeting with his common-law wife Chan to another, a series of goodbyes in which most of the people surrounding Parker worry about where he's going or if they'll ever speak to him again.

It's not only a film for bebop fans or Parker devotees, which is what Eastwood is; if the allure of modern jazz as Parker more or less invented it eludes you, as it does me, then the film becomes a hearty, intense education in the culture to a degree that the music itself may not be (Parker's original recordings are used). Whatever your position, you'll still wither before the movie's uncompromised conviction. Eastwood may never have been as passionate about anything on film in his life.

Bird feels like a horrible waking dream, but its attention to details demands respect, and it might be the best American film about a thoroughly black milieu ever made by a white man. Still, Eastwood doesn't play up the friction, but lets it sneak in, as we notice the generalized vision of midcentury jazz as a black world occasionally invaded by upper-middle-class white women looking for authentic thrills, as well as the unspoken racial tension in every scene involving Parker (Forest Whitaker) and the half-Jewish Chan (born Beverly Berg), played by Diane Venora. The evolution of Red Rodney (Michael Zelniker), a young Jewish trumpet player in awe of Parker, from fresh-faced wannabe to smack-hooked vet is telling - to slip him under the segregation line in the '50s, Parker dubbed him "Albino Red." In a sweetly brief shot, as the band files into a blacks-only motel, Zelniker's Red subtly turns his back to the desk clerk, "passing" for black.

With Bird, Eastwood also turned into a consummate actor's director; Whitaker (a Best Actor award at Cannes) and Venora (a trophy from the New York Film Critics Circle) have never been as immersed and convincing, both of them playing aggressively irritating people with shallows of self-consciousness and egomania, but eventually stripped by pain and addiction down to their shameless, desperate centers. Whitaker, in fact, often limns Parker as a blustery, sweaty, extroverted nuisance, veering perhaps toward Playhouse 90 overacting at times, but by all accounts he has the real Parker down cold. It's a film about self-destruction, after all, and it stands to reason that its textures, personas and flow should provoke unease and discomfort, should we decide to empathize with these poor souls and not stand back as Eastwood does, capturing this lightless, sickened story in a bell jar and admiring it for its melancholy.

Of course Charlie Parker died, his 34-year-old body so riddled with chemical abuse and illnesses that the coroner mistook him for a man in his 60s, and couldn't in the end decipher what exactly caused his heart to stop. Eastwood eulogizes him, but Bird is as unsentimental as a tragic biopic can get.

Producer: Clint Eastwood
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay: Joel Oliansky
Cinematography: Jack N. Green
Music: Lennie Niehaus
Film Editing: Joel Cox
Cast: Forest Whitaker (Charlie 'Bird' Parker), Diane Venora (Chan Parker), Michael Zelniker (Red Rodney), Samuel E. Wright (Dizzy Gillespie), Keith David (Buster Franklin), Michael McGuire (Brewster), James Handy (Esteves), Damon Whitaker (Young Bird), Morgan Nagler (Kim), Arlen Dean Snyder (Dr. Heath).
C-161m.

by Michael Atkinson
Bird (1988)

Bird (1988)

By the time Clint Eastwood made Bird in 1988, he was a box office institution, but hardly an artist. He'd directed a dozen films, ranging from provocative pulp (Play Misty for Me [1971], High Plains Drifter [1973]) to, more prevalently, action trash (Firefox [1982],Sudden Impact [1983],Heartbreak Ridge [1986]), but in contrast to the other movie stars-turned-auteurs of his generation (Beatty, Redford, Newman), he seemed, behind the camera, neither subtle nor Oscar®-bound. Perhaps only a bit more than a Charles Bronson who could read scripts and knew where to put a camera, Eastwood seemed as if he might've been content rapping out Dirty Harry sequels forever, and never try for more. Little did we realize. Bird is where the Eastwood Era truly begins; since then, he has become a world-class filmmaker, with at least one unalloyed masterpiece, Unforgiven (1992), to mark his place in history for good, and a dozen other serious if less consistent films since (mixed with junk like 2002's Blood Work) that nonetheless peg him as a major American voice. There was no mistaking Bird for anything but a work of rousing ambition and heartfelt wisdom: a darkling biopic of jazz martyr Charlie Parker, which is in a shot as far away from the familiar Eastwood gunslinging scenarios as the filmmaker could get without just making a flat-out musical. Hardly dramatic or even eventful, Parker's life nonetheless fulfills a standard modern biopic format: the burn-bright-but-half-as-long James Dean paradigm, in which a young cultural icon rises to his or her medium's eminence like an angel and then dies far too soon. It can be a deeply unsatisfying narrative idea, and Eastwood seems to have realized the popular arc's shortcomings, never trying to squeeze our sympathies or milk the tragedy. Instead, his film is like a terrarium of doomed crepuscular creatures struggling in vain to extend their preordained lifespans. It's possible that no Hollywood film since the '50s is as dark as Eastwood's dirge, shot as it is not on real-&-gritty city streets (so it appears) but on shadowy studio sets, giving the film a claustrophobic, bluesy-dreamy airlessness, as if the film's entire world is just one big, smoky, low-ceilinged nightclub. The structure of the story (screenplay by unsung TV vet Joel Oliansky) roves around freely in Parker's adult years, and does not indulge dramatic peaks, but, rather, it sort of drifts, as the heroin-addled Parker does, from city to city, gig to gig, one meeting with his common-law wife Chan to another, a series of goodbyes in which most of the people surrounding Parker worry about where he's going or if they'll ever speak to him again. It's not only a film for bebop fans or Parker devotees, which is what Eastwood is; if the allure of modern jazz as Parker more or less invented it eludes you, as it does me, then the film becomes a hearty, intense education in the culture to a degree that the music itself may not be (Parker's original recordings are used). Whatever your position, you'll still wither before the movie's uncompromised conviction. Eastwood may never have been as passionate about anything on film in his life. Bird feels like a horrible waking dream, but its attention to details demands respect, and it might be the best American film about a thoroughly black milieu ever made by a white man. Still, Eastwood doesn't play up the friction, but lets it sneak in, as we notice the generalized vision of midcentury jazz as a black world occasionally invaded by upper-middle-class white women looking for authentic thrills, as well as the unspoken racial tension in every scene involving Parker (Forest Whitaker) and the half-Jewish Chan (born Beverly Berg), played by Diane Venora. The evolution of Red Rodney (Michael Zelniker), a young Jewish trumpet player in awe of Parker, from fresh-faced wannabe to smack-hooked vet is telling - to slip him under the segregation line in the '50s, Parker dubbed him "Albino Red." In a sweetly brief shot, as the band files into a blacks-only motel, Zelniker's Red subtly turns his back to the desk clerk, "passing" for black. With Bird, Eastwood also turned into a consummate actor's director; Whitaker (a Best Actor award at Cannes) and Venora (a trophy from the New York Film Critics Circle) have never been as immersed and convincing, both of them playing aggressively irritating people with shallows of self-consciousness and egomania, but eventually stripped by pain and addiction down to their shameless, desperate centers. Whitaker, in fact, often limns Parker as a blustery, sweaty, extroverted nuisance, veering perhaps toward Playhouse 90 overacting at times, but by all accounts he has the real Parker down cold. It's a film about self-destruction, after all, and it stands to reason that its textures, personas and flow should provoke unease and discomfort, should we decide to empathize with these poor souls and not stand back as Eastwood does, capturing this lightless, sickened story in a bell jar and admiring it for its melancholy. Of course Charlie Parker died, his 34-year-old body so riddled with chemical abuse and illnesses that the coroner mistook him for a man in his 60s, and couldn't in the end decipher what exactly caused his heart to stop. Eastwood eulogizes him, but Bird is as unsentimental as a tragic biopic can get. Producer: Clint Eastwood Director: Clint Eastwood Screenplay: Joel Oliansky Cinematography: Jack N. Green Music: Lennie Niehaus Film Editing: Joel Cox Cast: Forest Whitaker (Charlie 'Bird' Parker), Diane Venora (Chan Parker), Michael Zelniker (Red Rodney), Samuel E. Wright (Dizzy Gillespie), Keith David (Buster Franklin), Michael McGuire (Brewster), James Handy (Esteves), Damon Whitaker (Young Bird), Morgan Nagler (Kim), Arlen Dean Snyder (Dr. Heath). C-161m. by Michael Atkinson

Hamilton Camp (1934-2005)


Hamilton Camp, the diminutive yet effervescent actor and singer-songwriter, who spent nearly his entire life in show business, including several appearances in both television and films, died of a heart attack on October 2 at his Los Angeles home. He was 70.

He was born October 30, 1934, in London, England. After World War II, he moved to Canada and then to Long Beach with his mother and sister, where the siblings performed in USO shows. In 1946, he made his first movie, Bedlam starring Boris Karloff as an extra (as Bobby Camp) and continued in that vein until he played Thorpe, one of Dean Stockwell's classmates in Kim (1950).

After Kim he received some more slightly prominent parts in films: a messenger boy in Titanic (1953); and a mailroom attendant in Executive Suite (1954), but overall, Camp was never a steadily working child actor.

Camp relocated to Chicago in the late '50s and rediscovered his childhood passion - music. He began playing in small clubs around the Chicago area, and he struck oil when he partnered with a New York based folk artist, Bob Gibson in 1961. The pair worked in clubs all over the midwest and they soon became known for their tight vocal harmonies and Gibson's 12-string guitar style. Late in 1961, they recorded an album - Gibson and Camp at the Gate of Horn, the Gate of Horn being the most renowned music venue in Chicago for the burgeoning folk scene. The record may have aged a bit over the years, but it is admired as an important progress in folk music by most scholars, particularly as a missing link between the classic era of Woody Guthrie and the modern singer-songwriter genre populated by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

Gibson and Camp would split within two years, and after recording some albums as a solo artist and a brief stint with Chicago's famed Second City improvisational comedy troupe, Camp struck out on his own to work as an actor in Los Angeles. His changed his name to Hamilton from Bob, and despite his lack of vertical presence (he stood only 5-foot-2), his boundless energy and quick wit made him handy to guest star in a string of familiar sitcoms of the late '60s: The Monkees, Bewitched, and Love, American Style. By the '70s there was no stopping him as he appeared on virtually every popular comedy of the day: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, Laverne & Shirley, Three's Company, and WKRP in Cincinnati.

Eventually, Camp's film roles improved too, and he did his best film work in the latter stages of his career: Blake Edward's undisciplined but still funny S.O.B. (1981); Paul Bartel's glorious cult comedy Eating Raoul (1982); and Clint Eastwood's jazz biopic on Charlie Parker Bird (1988). Among his recent work was a guest spot last season as a carpenter on Desperate Housewives, and his recent completion of a Las Vegas based comedy Hard Four which is currently in post-production. Camp is survived by six children and thirteen grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Hamilton Camp (1934-2005)

Hamilton Camp, the diminutive yet effervescent actor and singer-songwriter, who spent nearly his entire life in show business, including several appearances in both television and films, died of a heart attack on October 2 at his Los Angeles home. He was 70. He was born October 30, 1934, in London, England. After World War II, he moved to Canada and then to Long Beach with his mother and sister, where the siblings performed in USO shows. In 1946, he made his first movie, Bedlam starring Boris Karloff as an extra (as Bobby Camp) and continued in that vein until he played Thorpe, one of Dean Stockwell's classmates in Kim (1950). After Kim he received some more slightly prominent parts in films: a messenger boy in Titanic (1953); and a mailroom attendant in Executive Suite (1954), but overall, Camp was never a steadily working child actor. Camp relocated to Chicago in the late '50s and rediscovered his childhood passion - music. He began playing in small clubs around the Chicago area, and he struck oil when he partnered with a New York based folk artist, Bob Gibson in 1961. The pair worked in clubs all over the midwest and they soon became known for their tight vocal harmonies and Gibson's 12-string guitar style. Late in 1961, they recorded an album - Gibson and Camp at the Gate of Horn, the Gate of Horn being the most renowned music venue in Chicago for the burgeoning folk scene. The record may have aged a bit over the years, but it is admired as an important progress in folk music by most scholars, particularly as a missing link between the classic era of Woody Guthrie and the modern singer-songwriter genre populated by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Gibson and Camp would split within two years, and after recording some albums as a solo artist and a brief stint with Chicago's famed Second City improvisational comedy troupe, Camp struck out on his own to work as an actor in Los Angeles. His changed his name to Hamilton from Bob, and despite his lack of vertical presence (he stood only 5-foot-2), his boundless energy and quick wit made him handy to guest star in a string of familiar sitcoms of the late '60s: The Monkees, Bewitched, and Love, American Style. By the '70s there was no stopping him as he appeared on virtually every popular comedy of the day: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, Laverne & Shirley, Three's Company, and WKRP in Cincinnati. Eventually, Camp's film roles improved too, and he did his best film work in the latter stages of his career: Blake Edward's undisciplined but still funny S.O.B. (1981); Paul Bartel's glorious cult comedy Eating Raoul (1982); and Clint Eastwood's jazz biopic on Charlie Parker Bird (1988). Among his recent work was a guest spot last season as a carpenter on Desperate Housewives, and his recent completion of a Las Vegas based comedy Hard Four which is currently in post-production. Camp is survived by six children and thirteen grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall September 30, 1988

Released in United States October 14, 1988

Released in United States on Video June 21, 1989

Released in United States August 1988

Released in United States September 1988

Released in United States November 1988

Released in United States November 20, 1988

Released in United States July 1989

Released in United States 2001

Shown at Edinburgh Festival August 1988.

Shown at New York Film Festival September 26 & 27, 1988.

Shown at FestRio in Brazil November 17-26, 1988.

Shown at London Film Festival November 20, 1988.

Shown at Moscow International Film Festival (market) July 7-18, 1989.

Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 19 - May 3, 2001.

Began shooting October 12, 1987.

Completed shooting December 1987.

Film was originally written as a vehicle for Richard Pryor when it was a project at Columbia Pictures.

Released in United States Fall September 30, 1988

Released in United States October 14, 1988 (Los Angeles)

Released in United States on Video June 21, 1989

Released in United States August 1988 (Shown at Edinburgh Festival August 1988.)

Released in United States September 1988 (Shown at New York Film Festival September 26 & 27, 1988.)

Released in United States November 1988 (Shown at FestRio in Brazil November 17-26, 1988.)

Released in United States November 20, 1988 (Shown at London Film Festival November 20, 1988.)

Released in United States July 1989 (Shown at Moscow International Film Festival (market) July 7-18, 1989.)

Released in United States 2001 (Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 19 - May 3, 2001.)