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Bird (1988)
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Bird (1988)

Back in New York, he needs to convince his musicians John Wilson (Hubert Kelly) and Billy McNabb to wait for him. Red Rodney offers him a gid playing at a wedding to earn some money on the while. They are relatives of Red Rodney, who is a Jewish guy. He improvises, as usual. The bride's father (Lou Catell) is happy about it and pays him what was agreed. Charlie wants to open Birdland to play there. Rodney phones Chan home because Charlie has gone back to his old ways. Rodney is a star on his own right. Charlie offers Rodney some gigs deep south with a mixed band. Rodney is worried they'll get lynched, but Charlie thinks hes' got that covered. They have to drive there themselves. Charlie says that Rodney is an albino black singer so instead of going to a nicer white hotel, he will share the blacks' accommodation - which is not very good. Red has to sing the blues, at first with little confidence, but then he goes with it. Red is sick with kidney stones. When he has to go to see a local doctor (Richard McKenzie). The nurse (Gretchen Oehler) tends to him and gets his history of previous kidney stones. Later, Red Rodney buys some stronger painkiller from the corrupt local doctor, simply offering some extra cash. The nurse stays silent throughout. Baroness Nica (Diane Salinger) is amazed at him. Rodney and Charlie have a conversation in which each one doubts that the other one will see forty. Buster Franklin asks Rodney to betray Charlie. Rodney gets a year on jail. Charlie keeps on playing, getting awards, recording songs and improvising. Chan has got three children by now. They have all moved onto a better apartment. One of her daughters, Pree, is deeply sick. Charlie feels so unwelcome that he leaves to a bar. He asks Rodney where he can find some more drugs. Soon afterwards, he's walking half-dizzy in the pouring rain. Moscowitz sends him to jail. Charlie's lawyer (Peter Crook) cannot make much when he's before the judge (Mathew Faison). Charlie'd rather go to jail and have his cabaret card signed afterwards than to stay on probation for such a long time. Charlie keeps on taking drugs because they appease him, they make him forget his physical pain, his heartache and his problems. Charlie is with a chick on a club while Chan has to take Pree to hospital. A nun (Patricia Herd) asks Chan whether Pree has been baptized. Meanwhile, Charlie is away at a barbecue party, getting late to his gigs. Dizzy says to him that he himself tries to be reliable to break white people's expectations, and he also feels that people will remember Charlie more. Charlie sends a telegram expressing his condolences to Chan. He looks distraught but he stays with Audrey throughout the ordeal. He stays with her and gets drugged again. That's what leads to Charlie making a suicide attempt to his life with iodine. His wife is the one who put her there. Chummy Morello wants Charlie to tour again. He tells Red Rodney, who is in love with Violet Wells (Ann Weldon) now. Chan moves with her children to a smaller shabby house which her mother can't rent, in the hopes of mending it and making a stable home for her family. Charlie visits them and then leaves to a gig in Chicago. He has to drive as nobody would pay for his plane tickets - he's got infamous for his lack of reliability, his missed gigs, etc... Back at New York, all the jazz bars have been turned into strip joints. The rith-'n'-blues rhythm has changed into rock'n'roll, the new sensation, and that's what's played by Brewster Franklin (Michael McGuire). Franklin leads the life of a rock'n'roll star, with hundreds of screaming fans eager to kiss - or to be shagged - by him after sitting concerts, to which Charlie responds by stealing an instrument and playing. Bernie can't find Charlie any more work, as he has the tendency to show up too late. Bernie tells Charlie to call Chan, who is really worried about him. Charlie tells her about a Boston gig, and pretense that everything's all right. Chan tries to be supportive, but she can't believe him anymore. Charlie goes to Baroness Nica's posh hotel suite. She calls a doctor (Don Starr), who tells her that Charlie is beyond repair. Charlie drinks -as usual-, he watches TV and laughs. It looks like he's having a heart attack. He remembers about people he knew, people who called him Yardbird, Pree's coffin, the body he was supposed to be avenging... Charlie 'Bird' Parker dies later that night, on March 12, 1955 of a heart attack. Nica tries to reach Chan on the phone desperately to give her the news. At Nica's, a reporter (Jim Lane) thinks that Charlie was 65 years old, and gets startled when Nica corrects him: Charlie was only 34.
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