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The Five Heartbeats Details


Loosely based on the life and times of several R&B artists (The Dells, The Temptations, [[Performer~P43918~Frankie Lymon~frankielymon]], [[Performer~P85793~Sam Cooke~samcooke]] and others) The Five Heartbeats traces the rise and fall of a popular African-American 1950s singing aggregation. The story is told from the point of view of one of the "Heartbeats," played by [[Performer~P114469~Robert Townsend~roberttownsend]] (who also co-produced, directed and co-wrote the script with Keenan Ivory Waynans). The film is an amalgam of anecdotes drawn from real-life experiences: the long struggle upward, the first rush of success, the dishonest record-company executives, the hard-nosed but nurturing managers, the sex, the drugs, the isolation and the precipitous downward slide. The film begins and ends in the 1990s, as the middle-aged "Duck" (Townsend) ruminates on the past and makes the best of the present. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:March 29, 1991


Robert Townsend
as Duck
Michael Wright
as Eddie
as J.T.
Harry J. Lennix
as Dresser
Tico Wells
as Choirboy
Chuck Patterson
as Jimmy Potter
Diahann Carroll
as Eleanor Potter
The Nicholas Brothers
as Ernest 'Sarge' Johnson
Hawthorne James
as Big Red
Harold Nicholas
as Sarge
Fred Asparagus
as Big Red's Guy
Bob Mardis
as Midnight Falcon
David McKnight
as Pastor Stone
Kathleen Mitchell
as Crystal
Norma Donaldson
as Mrs. Sawyer
Suzanne Suter
as Crystal
John Witherspoon
as Wild Rudy
Arnold Johnson
as Mr. Matthews
Shannon Chambers
as Matthew's Kid
Veronica Redd
as Mrs. Matthews
Tommy Redmond Hicks
as Pastor Blake
Christopher Bradley
as Theatre Security Man
Ron Smith
as Poker Player
Alexis Johnson
as Little Girl
Vincent J. Isaac
as Hitman
Deborah Lacey
as Rose
Joel Weiss
as St. George Hotel Doorman
Marilyn Coleman
as Mrs. King
Barry Diamond
as Five Horseman
Tommy Townsend
as Matthew's Kid
Kasi Lemmons
as Cookie
Joey Gaynor
as Five Horseman
Monique Mannen
as Sandra Tillman
Shanel Cason
as J.T.'s Little Girl
Tressa Thomas
as Duck's Baby Sister
John Canada Terrell
as Michael "Flash" Turner
Frank Fontaine
as Poker Player
Gregory "Popeye" Alexander
as Midnight Falcon
Donnie Simpson
as Himself
Lisa Mende
as Marcia Sayles
Ron Jaxson
as Ebony Sparks
Tiffanique Webb
as Speakeasy Girl
Eugene Robert Glazer
as David Green
Randy Harris
as Big Red's Guy
Jimmy Woodard
as Midnight Falcon
Anne-Marie Johnson
as Sydney Todd
Roy Fegan
as Bird
Timmie Rogers
as Buddy Lewis
Troy Beyer
as Baby Doll
O.L. Duke
as Monroe
Wayne "Crescendo" Ward
as Ebony Sparks
David Drummond
as Policeman
Lamont Johnson
as Bobby Cassanova
Recoe Walker
as Ebony Sparks
Bobby McGee
as Leon
Carla Brothers
as Tanya Sawyer
Griff Ruggles
as Policeman
Harry Stanback
as Speakeasy Guy
Paul Benjamin
as Mr. King
Roger Rose
as The Midnight Falcon
Brian Bradley
as Five Horseman
Gigi Bolden
as Crystal
Harris Peet
as Phil Shumway
Lakisha Luke
as Matthew's Kid
Phyllis Applegate
as Myra Stone
Theresa Randle
as Brenda


Robert Townsend
Robert Townsend
Christina Schmidlin
Kokayi Ampah
Robert Townsend
Keenen Ivory Wayans
William Dill
Stanley Clarke
Composer (Music Score)
Christopher Young
Composer (Music Score)
Wynn P. Thomas
Production Designer
Don Diers
Art Director
Nancy Israel
Samara Schaffer
Set Designer
Ruth E. Carter
Costume Designer
David Brownlow
Sound/Sound Designer
Michael Peters