A Great Day in Harlem (1995) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Great Day in Harlem (1995)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

A Great Day in Harlem is a wonderful documentary about a seemingly ho-hum subject -- the taking of a photograph. Even when the photograph in question involves some of the greatest jazz musicians who ever lived, building a film around a static subject like a photograph is not an easy task. Jean Bach's achievement lies in making this come brilliantly alive; indeed, there's a surprising buoyancy and a sprightliness to the entire enterprise that makes the film unique. True, there's a great deal of information that is imparted -- delightful little tidbits such as Maxine Sullivan having a gift for remembering even the most obscure of lyrics, or that asking Thelonious Monk (who wore a light-colored jacket to make sure he stood out in the picture) a question meant one would get a remarkably frank and truthful answer -- but what one remembers after viewing Great Day is not the various facts presented, or even the personalities of those discussed and/or interviewed. What one remembers is the feeling of joyful immediacy that the film evokes, truly making the viewer feel as if he or she were actually there in Harlem on the day in question. There are a number of complaints one could have about the film (such as the flatness of the lighting and the subsequent dullness of some of the shots), but the little flaws seem truly miniscule in comparison with that wonderful feeling.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Jean Bach, Susan Peehl, Matthew Seig, Jean Bach, Susan Peehl
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 3, 2006
A B C Home Video

News & Interviews for A Great Day in Harlem

Critic Reviews for A Great Day in Harlem

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (9)

If you wanted to introduce someone to what jazz is all about, this would be an ideal place to start.

Full Review… | October 17, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

For non-buffs, pic fails the acid test of exciting interest where there was little or none before; it could easily have covered the same ground in half its length.

Full Review… | October 17, 2007
Top Critic

A wonderful, warm little movie.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic


December 29, 2005
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Anyone with the misconception that the spirit of a particular music is not a direct reflection of the souls of the musicians who created it must see A Great Day in Harlem, Jean Bach's small and very moving documentary about the jazz life.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

It's a funny and moving film whose swinging rhythms and informal tone capture a feeling for the music, the people who make it and the affection and respect they feel for each other and the art form.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for A Great Day in Harlem

Nice introduction to jazz, great story, great photo, but unfortunately is a little too arm's-length to inspire much in my opinion.

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