Bird (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes


Bird (1988)



Critic Consensus: Forest Whitaker inhabits Charlie Parker with aplomb in this moving love letter to the music icon, told by director Clint Eastwood with a moody style that visually evokes the wistful rhythm of jazz.

Bird Photos

Movie Info

Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood ("Letters from Iwo Jima," "Flags of Our Fathers"), a well-known, long-standing jazz aficionado, delivers a compassionate portrait of jazz visionary Charlie "Yardbird" Parker. Eastwood, who won a Golden Globe for Best Director for this film, also paints a vivid portrait of the jazz world in all its complexity. Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winner Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland," "Phone Booth"), as Parker, provides a multifaceted performance that helps provide an understanding of the man's genius, and tragedy. Co-starring Diane Venora ("The Insider," "Heat"), who along with Whitaker was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in this picture, Bill Cobbs ("Night at the Museum," "The Hudsucker Proxy"), John Witherspoon (the "Friday" movie series, TV's "The Wayans Bros.") and Tony Cox ("Bad Santa," "Epic Movie"). This music-driven film was an Academy Award-winner for Best Sound.

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Forest Whitaker
as Charlie 'Bird' Parker
Diane Venora
as Chan Parker
Michael Zelniker
as Red Rodney
Sam E. Wright
as Dizzy Gillespie
Keith David
as Buster Franklin
James Handy
as Esteves
Damon Whitaker
as Young Bird
Sam Robards
as Moscowitz
Penelope Windust
as Bellevue Nurse
Glenn T. Wright
as Alcoholic Patient
George Orrison
as Patient with Checkers
Glenn Wright
as Alcoholic Patient
Bill Cobbs
as Dr. Caulfield
Hamilton Camp
as Mayor of 52nd Street
Jo De Winter
as Mildred Berg
Richard Zavaglia
as Ralph the Narc
Al Pugliese
as Three Deuces Owner
Hubert Kelly
as John Wilson
Billy J. Mitchell
as Billy Prince
Karl Vincent
as Stratton
Lou Cutell
as Bride's Father
Roger Etienne
as Parisian MC
Jason Bernard
as Benny Tate
Gretchen Oehler
as Southern Nurse
Richard McKenzie
as Southern Doctor
Tony Cox
as Pee Wee Marquette
Diane Salinger
as Baroness Nica
Natalia Silverwood
as Red's Girl Friend
Johnny Adams
as Bartender
Peter Crook
as Bird's Lawyer
Alec Paul Rubinstein
as Recording Producer
Steve Zettler
as Oasis Club Owner
Ann Weldon
as Violet Welles
Charley Lang
as DJ at the Paramount
Tim Russ
as Harris
Richard Jeni
as Chummy Morello
Don Starr
as Doctor at Nica's
Richard Mawe
as Medical Examiner
Chris Bosley
as Doorman #1
George T. Bruce
as Doorman #2
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News & Interviews for Bird

Critic Reviews for Bird

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (9)

What the film pulls off is the difficult fusion of this kind of accuracy with larger 'truths' which are no respecter of accuracy.

January 16, 2020 | Full Review…

In this movie and its hot, fast bursts of bop, Charlie Parker gets a fitting elegy.

December 11, 2018 | Full Review…

Sensitively acted, beautifully planned visually and dynamite musically, this is a dramatic telling of the troubled life of a revolutionary artist.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

At last American cinema has done black music proud. Unforgettable.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Bird is less moving as a character study than it is as a tribute and as a labor of love. The portrait it offers, though hazy at times, is one Charlie Parker's admirers will recognize.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3/5

Even though, thematically, the movie won't come clear, Eastwood has succeeded so thoroughly in communicating his love of his subject, and there's such vitality in the performances, that we walk out elated, juiced on the actors and the music.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bird


This is the biopic of jazz legend Bird Parker. Forest Whitaker gives a tour de force performance in the titular role of this biopic. It's a complicated role for Whitaker, filled with moments when he battles segregation with strategic charm and other moments when he's so strung out that I found it difficult to sympathize with him. Whitaker handles all the acting challenges with the poise of a seasoned vet. Clint Eastwood's direction captures the feel of jazz. Smoky nightclubs, some quick dialogue, and an ever-present brassy score bring back the environment of the time with a bygone verisimilitude. While the narrative structure - telling the middle of the story at the beginning - works toward the start of the film, it falls apart halfway through. Also, Diane Venora can't keep up with Whitaker, and the reasons why Chan loves him become less and less clear. Overall, you should see this film because of Whitaker, and if you like the music of the era, you're in for a real treat.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


an expertly crafted film. the direction and acting were flawless, and the music was obviously exceptional. my real criticism of the film lies in the choices made in the writing. it seems the film was dominated by parkers personal life rather than his music, and more balance was probably appropriate, and even with the focus as presented there were a few major pieces of parkers life not included in the film that really should have been. overall, an incomplete look at bird despite the films lengthy running time, but what we were given was made with precision and the film was a joy to watch.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer


A biopic on Charlie "Bird" Parker, Clint Eastwood crafts this film as a labor of love. His love for Jazz music is apparent with this film, and its a well told and acted biopic. Clint Eastwood has tremendous flair in telling a great story, and he tells Charlie Parker's story with knowledge on the subject matter at hand. The film is dark and sad. Parker lived a sad life and this is what unfolds on the film. Bird is a terrific biopic on a tremendously talented musician. This is one of the best biopics I've seen seen. As a diehard fan of Heavy Metal and rock music, I thoroughly enjoyed something different such as a film about a Jazz musician. If you want a terrificbiopic on a tremendous musician, then Bird is for you.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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