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Running Time:
1 hour, 49 minutes

Rating: R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.

Rating Explanation:
for pervasive language and some sexuality.

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
A joyous celebration of the golden age of Chicago Blues fueled by the outstanding performances of Jeffrey Wright, Beyonce, Eamonn Walker and Mos Def as Rock and Roll's rabble-rousing founding father, Chuck Berry.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: Closed Caption; Deleted scenes; "Playing Chess: The Making of Cadillac Records"; "Once Upon a Blues: Cadillac Records by Design"; Commentary with writer/director Darnell Martin

Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters
Gabrielle Union as Geneva Wade
BeyoncÚ Knowles as Etta James
Mos Def as Chuck Berry
Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf.
Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon

Cadillac Records

This tale of sex, violence, race and rock & roll in the 1950s and 60s, celebrates the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America's greatest musical legends. It begins at a dingy bar on the rough South Side of Chicago in 1947, where an ambitious young Polish emigre, bar owner Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody "The Pianist"), hires a talented but undisciplined blues combo that includes quiet and thoughtful guitar prodigy Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright "Syriana") and an impulsive and colorful harmonica player - Little Walter  (Columbus Short "Stomp the Yard"). Fascinated by the sound of the music, and eager to cash in on the burgeoning record business, Chess arranges a recording session for them and their records start moving up the R+B charts.

Chess treats his musicians like family. He buys them a Cadillac when they have their first hit, but the line between their business and personal lives sometimes causes conflict within his talented and increasingly successful stable of artists. After backing up Muddy on his early recordings, Little Walter becomes a star in his own right, but his quick temper and loud manner often run him afoul of both his friends and the law. He also finds that the only woman he can talk to is Muddy's girl, Geneva (Gabrielle Union "Deliver Us from Eva"), who struggles to remain loyal despite Muddy's poorly concealed affairs. Big Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer "Barbershop"), a songwriter and bandleader, also becomes a key member of the Chess Records family, as does Howlin' Wolf (Eamonn Walker "Lord of War"), an intense and proud blues singer who develops a musical rivalry with Muddy.

But it's not until 1955 when a Chess artist finally "crosses over" into mainstream America. A skinny guy from St. Louis named Chuck Berry (Mos Def "Monster's Ball"), with his catchy, country-tinged tunes marks the true beginning of rock-and-roll. But when Berry is arrested and jailed at the height of his career, Chess finds another talented performer, singer Etta James (Beyonce Knowles "Dreamgirls"), a troubled and badly addicted young woman who lives the blues she sings.

As rock-and-roll grows more popular, the Chess artists find themselves revered by a new generation of musicians, but they have also each earned and lost a small fortune on booze, women and the high life, and their addictions begin to take their toll. Although it may not always be historically correct, this sprawling tale of how the blues became popular and gave birth to rock and roll, written and directed by Darnell Martin ("Prison Song"), is both wildly entertaining and musically satisfying.

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