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Round Midnight

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bertrand Tavernier
Produced by Irwin Winkler
Written by David Rayfiel (screenplay)
Bertrand Tavernier (screenplay)
Colo Tavernier (French translation)
Starring Dexter Gordon
François Cluzet
Gabrielle Haker
Herbie Hancock
Martin Scorsese
Philippe Noiret
Music by Herbie Hancock (original music)
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) September 12, 1986 (Toronto Film Festival)
Running time 133 min.
Language English

Round Midnight is a 1986 film directed by Bertrand Tavernier. It tells the story of an African American tenor saxophone player in Paris in the 1950s who becomes befriended by an unsuccessful French graphic designer who idolizes the musician and who tries desperately to help him to get out of his life of alcohol abuse. The protagonist jazzman, "Dale Turner," was based on a composite of real-life jazz legends Lester Young (tenor sax) and the tortured and enigmatic Bud Powell (piano). While the film is fictionalized, it is drawn directly from the memoir/biography Dance of the Infidels written by Francis Paudras, who had befriended Powell during his Paris expatriate days and on whom the character "Francis" is based. The film is a wistful and tragic portrait that captures the Paris jazz scene of the 1950s.

Tavernier defied the movie studio by insisting that jazz tenor sax great Dexter Gordon play the role of Turner. Gordon, who himself played with Bud Powell in Paris in the 1950s, helped to revise and rewrite the script. The supporting cast is likewise composed of jazz musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Pierre Michelot, Eric Le Lann, and others who play the music live throughout the film. In addition to the musicians, the movie stars François Cluzet, Gabrielle Haker, Sandra Reaves-Phillips, Lonette McKee and Christine Pascal.

Filmed in Paris and New York, the movie was written by David Rayfiel and Tavernier.

Dexter Gordon was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Herbie Hancock won the award for Best Music, Original Score. The soundtrack was released in two parts: Round Midnight and The Other Side of Round Midnight under Gordon's name.

An episode of "The Simpsons" titled "Round Springfield" is a homage to the film.

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