Fred Hersch
February 21, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

Sweet Love, Bitter

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
92 minutes
performer
Dick Gregory, Don Murray, John Randolph
distributor
Rhapsody Films
genre
Drama, Romance

We gave it a B-

Sweet Love, Bitter, a rarely seen predecessor of ‘Round Midnight and Bird has a lot going for it: a strong score by pianist Mal Waldron (with alto sax great Charles McPherson dubbing actor Dick Gregory’s solos), black-and-white cinematography that evokes the gritty New York club scene of the late ’50s, and an authentic and often moving performance by Gregory as the fictional saxophonist Richie ”Eagle” Stokes (a thinly disguised Charlie ”Bird” Parker). Unfortunately, the other characters (including Don Murray as a college prof on the skids) are flatter than blue notes; like a gifted soloist backed by a mediocre big band, Gregory has no one to stimulate and interact with him. Despite a few credible scenes, what could have been an enlightening look inside the jazz subculture degenerates into another simplistic story of misunderstood genius as victim of society. B-

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