The Cotton Club is a 1984 American crime-drama film centered on a Harlem jazz club of the 1930s, the Cotton Club.

The film was noted for its over-budget production costs, and took a total of five years to make. Critical reception was mostly positive and The Cotton Club was nominated for several awards, including Golden Globes for Best Director and Best Picture (Drama) and Oscars for Best Art Direction, George Gaines and Film Editing. The film, however, also earned a Razzie Award nomination for Diane Lane as Worst Supporting Actress.


A musician named Dixie Dwyer begins working with mobsters to advance his career but falls in love with the girlfriend of gangland kingpin Dutch Schultz.

A dancer from Dixie's neighborhood, Sandman Williams, is hired with his brother by the Cotton Club, a jazz club where most of the performers are black and the customers white. Owney Madden, a mobster, owns the club and runs it with his right-hand man, Frenchy.

Dixie becomes a Hollywood film star, thanks to the help of Madden and the Mafia but angering Schultz. He also continues to see Schultz's moll, Vera Cicero, whose new nightclub has been financed by the jealous gangster.

In the meantime, Dixie's ambitious younger brother Vincent becomes a gangster in Schultz's mob and eventually a public enemy, holding Frenchy as a hostage.

Sandman alienates his brother Clay at the Cotton Club by agreeing to perform a solo number there. While the club's management interferes with Sandman's romantic interest in Lila, a singer, its cruel treatment of the performers leads to an intervention by Harlem criminal Bumpy Johnson on their behalf.

Dutch Schultz is violently dealt with by Madden's men while Dixie and Sandman perform on the Cotton Club's stage.


  • Richard Gere as Dixie Dwyer
  • Gregory Hines as Delbert "Sandman" Williams
  • Diane Lane as Vera Cicero
  • Lonette McKee as Lila Rose Oliver
  • Bob Hoskins as Owney Madden
  • James Remar as Dutch Schultz
  • Nicolas Cage as Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll
  • Allen Garfield as Otto Berman
  • Fred Gwynne as Frenchy Demange
  • Gwen Verdon as Tish Dwyer
  • Lisa Jane Persky as Frances Flegenheimer
  • Maurice Hines as Clayton "Clay" Williams
  • Julian Beck as Sol Weinstein
  • Joe Dallesandro as Charles "Lucky" Luciano
  • Laurence Fishburne as Bumpy Rhodes
  • Tom Waits as Irving Starck
  • John P. Ryan as Joe Flynn
  • Glenn Withrow as Ed Popke
  • Jennifer Grey as Patsy Dwyer
  • Woody Strode as Holmes
  • Diane Venora as Gloria Swanson
  • Tucker Smallwood as Kid Griffin
  • Bill Cobbs as Big Joe Ison
  • Rosalind Harris as Fanny Brice
  • Mark Margolis as Charlie Workman
  • Larry Marshall as Cab Calloway