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Kansas City (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kansas City
Kansas City VideoCover.jpeg
VHS cover
Directed byRobert Altman
Produced byRobert Altman
Written byFrank Barhydt
Robert Altman
StarringJennifer Jason Leigh
Miranda Richardson
Harry Belafonte
Michael Murphy
Steve Buscemi
CinematographyOliver Stapleton
Edited byGeraldine Peroni
Ciby 2000
Distributed byFine Line Features
Release date
  • August 16, 1996 (1996-08-16)
Running time
116 min
CountryUnited States
Budget$19 million
Box office$1,356,329

Kansas City is a 1996 American crime film directed by Robert Altman and starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, Harry Belafonte, Michael Murphy, and Steve Buscemi. The musical score of Kansas City is integrated into the film, with modern-day musicians recreating the Kansas City jazz of 1930s.

The film was entered into the 1996 Cannes Film Festival.[1]


A kidnapping goes down in 1934 Kansas City. Blondie O'Hara's (Leigh) petty thief husband Johnny is taken by gangster "Seldom Seen" and held prisoner at the Hey Hey Club, one of the hot spots of the Kansas City jazz scene. Blondie herself kidnaps the wife of a local politician, Mrs. Stilton, who is addicted to laudanum (an opium liquid) and has secrets of her own. Blondie's plan is to blackmail Mr. Stilton into helping to free Johnny.

Despite the risk to his re-election campaign, Mr. Stilton does everything he can in order to free his wife by saving Johnny, including using his connections to the Tom Pendergast political machine. Meanwhile, Mrs. Stilton comes to befriend Blondie. She is impressed by Blondie's devotion to her husband, contrasted to her own loveless marriage.

A subplot concerns political fixer Johnny Flynn (Buscemi) paying vagrants and addicts to vote in the upcoming election and sway the outcome.



Kansas City received mixed to positive reviews from critics, as it holds a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 37 reviews. Roger Ebert gave it three stars for Altman's "originality and invention", saying the story is "fairly thin" but "Altman gathered some of the best living jazz musicians, put them on a set representing the Hey Hey Club, and asked them to play period material in the style of the Kansas City jazz giants (Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Jay McShann, Lester Young, etc.). He filmed their work in a concert documentary style, and intercuts it". He praised the period recreation of colors and looks of the clothes, cars, and advertising and was reminded of Altman's other 1930s gangster movie, Thieves Like Us (1974).[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[3]

The soundtrack was produced by Hal Willner and Steven Bernstein and featured several contemporary musicians playing the roles of jazz musicians from the 1930s. For example, Craig Handy plays the role of Coleman Hawkins, Geri Allen plays Mary Lou Williams, and James Carter plays Ben Webster.

Track listing

1."Blues in the Dark"James Carter & Joshua Redman4:54
2."Moten Swing"
Jesse Davis & James Carter3:43
3."I Surrender Dear"James Carter, Nicholas Payton & Cyrus Chestnut6:02
4."Queer Notions"Coleman HawkinsDavid Murray, Russell Malone & Cyrus Chestnut5:40
5."Lullaby of the Leaves"Jesse Davis, Clark Gayton & Geri Allen4:26
6."I Left My Baby"
Mark Whitfield, David Newman, Craig Handy & Curtis Fowlkes7:24
7."Yeah, Man"Craig Handy & Joshua Redman5:00
8."Froggy Bottom"Mary Lou WilliamsGeri Allen, David Newman & Mark Whitfield6:20
9."Solitude"Joshua Redman6:02
10."Pagin' the Devil"Don Byron, Olu Dara & Clark Gayton5:27
Nicholas Payton, James Zollar & Olu Dara4:04
12."Solitude (Reprise)"
  • Irving Mills
  • Eddie DeLange
  • Duke Ellington
Don Byron, Christian McBride & Ron Carter4:05
Total length:63:07


Chart (1996) Peak
US Top Jazz Albums (Billboard)[4] 6


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Kansas City". Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  2. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 16, 1996). "Kansas City". Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Soundtrack Chart History (Top Jazz Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved March 14, 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 31 July 2020, at 06:49
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