In ‘Round Midnight, real-life jazz legend Dexter Gordon brilliantly portrays the fictional tenor sax player Dale Turner, a musician slowly losing the battle with alcoholism, estranged from his family, and hanging on by a thread in the 1950’s New York jazz world.
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Brilliant film, especially if you like jazz. The character Dale Turner is based on Lester Young and Bud Powell, with the plot drawn mostly from the memoir "Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell" by Bud's most ardent fan, Francis Paudras.
Though I like jazz quite a bit and was enamored of Dexter Gordon playing on film, his "acting" varies from sublime to complicated to please-stop. It's a great picture, but I lost focus on it a few times and that distraction cost me a little.
To me this is the best film depicting what it means to live the life of a jazz artist. It didn't base the main character around stereotypes like Mo Better Blues, but instead gave us a fragile musician trying to hang on to his love of the music and dealing with the losses that have come with it.