Round Midnight is a 1986 American-French musical drama film directed by Bertrand Tavernier and written by Tavernier and David Rayfiel. It stars Dexter Gordon, François Cluzet and Herbie Hancock. Martin Scorsese, Philippe Noiret and Wayne Shorter appear in cameos.
The protagonist jazzman, "Dale Turner", was based on a composite of real-life jazz legends Lester Young (tenor sax) and Bud Powell (piano). While the film is fictionalized, it is drawn directly from the memoir/biography Dance of the Infidels written by French author 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.
Dexter Gordon was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and won a Grammy for the film's soundtrack entitled The Other Side of Round Midnight in the category for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, Soloist. Herbie Hancock won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score. The soundtrack was released in two parts: Round Midnight and The Other Side of Round Midnight.
Dale Turner, a famous African-American tenor saxophone player in Paris in the 1950s is befriended by Francis, a struggling French graphic designer specialized in film posters, who idolizes the musician and who tries desperately to help him to escape alcohol abuse. As he succeeds, the budding friendship they develop changes their lives forever.
Directed by Bertrand Tavernier
Produced by Irwin Winkler
Screenplay by David Rayfiel
Colo Tavernier (French translation)
Based on Dance of the Infidels
by Francis Paudras
Starring Dexter Gordon
Music by Herbie Hancock (original music)
Studio Little Bear
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates September 12, 1986 (TIFF)
October 3, 1986 (United States)