Kansas City (1996)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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"Kansas City" is a panoramic melodrama about politics, race, crime, and the movies, made in a "jazz" style that matches the film's musical milieu.
R (for language, and for some violence and drug use)
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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Jennifer Jason Leigh
as Blondie O'Hara
Miranda Richardson
as Carolyn Stilton
Harry Belafonte
as Seldom Seen
Michael Murphy
as Henry Stilton
Dermot Mulroney
as Johnny O'Hara
Martin Martin
as `Blue' Green
Tony A.C. Smith
as Sheepshan Red
Joshua Redman
as Lester Young
Steve Buscemi
as Johnny Flynn
Brooke Smith
as Babe Flynn
Jane Adams (II)
as Nettie Bolt
Jeff Feringa
as Addie Parker
Albert J. Burnes
as Charlie Parker
Ajia Mignon Johnson
as Pearl Cummings
James Carter
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Craig Handy
as Hey Hey Club Musician
David Murray
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Jesse Davis
as Hey Hey Club Musician
David 'Fathead' Newman Jr.
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Don Byron
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Olu Dara
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Nicholas Payton
as Hey Hey Club Musician
James Zollar
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Curtis Fowlkes
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Clark Gayton
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Victor Lewis
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Geri Allen
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Cyrus Chestnut
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Ron Carter
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Christian McBride
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Tyrone Clark
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Russell Malone
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Mark Whitfield
as Hey Hey Club Musician
Kevin Mahogany
as Hey Hey Club Musician
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Critic Reviews for Kansas City

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (11)

Altman loves to explode movie genres, and his script, co-written with Frank Barhydt, fuses the classic '30s screwball comedy and crime film.

Full Review… | January 18, 2013
Top Critic

It could never for an instant be mistaken for anything but a Robert Altman film, and that counts for a lot.

Full Review… | February 13, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Let's just say that if you find it arbitrary and more an expression of Altman's feelings about class than the outcome of his story, then we are in agreement.

December 31, 1999
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Would someone throw a net over Jennifer Jason Leigh? She's at it again.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

A sadly ordinary motion picture, and, in less sure hands, it might have been something of an unfortunate mess. Even with Altman at the helm, however, it manages to be singularly unremarkable.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Top Critic

All of the characters act as if somebody might come along someday and make a movie about them. And Altman, who made the movie, gets his chance to sit in at last on one of those cutting sessions.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Kansas City

I pefered this film then Altman's "Thieves Like Us" which was also set in the depression era of the 1930. "Kansas City" doesn't care so much on the plot but rather on the characters but I was particularly more interested in the jazz players, and a "Godfather" type played by Harry Belefonte. Altman seems to not want to use his usually skilled trademarks. There is seldom use of overlapping dialogue although there is a good sense of closeness between blacks and whites within Kansas City, Altman's authentic detail to the 1930's, and his great use of editing, cutting between the main characters, and the jazz players. One of the best scenes show two jazz artist going against one another and afterwods respecting each other's craft. Steve Buscemi's character reminds me of one of the characters in "Gangs Of New York" getting all the people to vote. This picture is not Altman's best film but I still enjoyed it thanks to a strong performance from Belefonte, and well, again the period and the music.

Brian R
Brian R

Super Reviewer


"Kansas City" is an extremely slight film in Robert Altman's filmography. I was surprised that Altman forgets the basic ingredients that are so important to making film noir work. The biggest sin "Kansas City" commits is that the film is never nasty. A good film noir should always make you feel uncomfortable. Altman understood this in "The Long Goodbye," but for some reason it's obviously absent from "Kansas City." Moreover, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Miranda Richardson are sorely miscast, making the pedestrian proceedings even more uninteresting. "Kansas City" could have been a great film if Altman had dared to take more interesting choices, something that effects all of his late 90s works. As it stands, this is just aggressively mediocre.

Steven Carrier
Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer


boring, but interesting and decently made... also just my opinion but Jennifer Jason Leigh makes Dane Cook seem oscar worthy (seriously).

Coxxie Mild Sauce
Coxxie Mild Sauce

Super Reviewer

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