A mythical account of the life of Buddy Bolden, the first Cornet King of New Orleans.


Dan Pritzker


Dan Pritzker (screenplay), Dan Pritzker (story) | 1 more credit »
2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Carr ... Buddy Bolden
Erik LaRay Harvey ... Bartley
Ian McShane ... Judge Perry
Michael Rooker ... Pat McMurphy
Yaya DaCosta ... Nora Bolden
Reno Wilson ... Louis Armstrong
Robert Ri'chard ... George Baquet
Karimah Westbrook ... Alice Bolden
JoNell Kennedy ... Ida Bass
Kearia Schroeder ... Grace
Serena Reeder ... Mavis
Krystal Farris ... Belladonna
Christina Marie Karis ... Bernadette
Terri Abney ... Judith
Breon Pugh ... Willie Warner


A mythical account of the life of Buddy Bolden, the first Cornet King of New Orleans.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Where the Music Began



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content and graphic nudity, brutal violence, language and drug use

Did You Know?


This was originally filmed in 2007 with Anthony Mackie starring as Bolden. Director Dan Pritzker thought that what he had shot "just didn't work", so he shelved it. Extensive rewrites and reshoots took place from 2009 to 2010, but Pritzker shelved the film again.

Three months of even more reshoots were scheduled from 2014 to 2015, with a mostly new cast and crew. Mackie, whose career had taken off in the interim, was no longer available, so he was replaced by Gary Carr. (Mackie still appears as Bolden in Louis (2010), which was filmed at at the same time as this film and completed first.)

Several more days of reshoots took place in 2016, and the film was finally completed in 2018 and released in 2019. According to Pritzker, a little over 10% from the original 2007 shoot remains in the finished film. See more »


Bartley: You got to put your music in the man's machine, motherfucker.
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User Reviews

3 May 2019 | by segaltoonsSee all my reviews

I knew nothing about Buddy Bolden before seeing this film and after seeing it I know even less. This film is put together like a two hour trailer, the scenes jump around in time and never seem to build to a satisfying emotional conclusion. There are individual shots that promise something interesting, but never seem to finish. Even the jazz numbers which are well arranged by Wynton Marsalis, do not get to finish. And most music varies in fidelity and we move thru time and space.

The period details are perfect as is the music, sounding like it's played on period instruments. The performances are believable especially Gary Carr as Buddy Bolden who presents a broad range of emotions. He can be exhibiting a youthful energy exploring the nascent possibilities of jazz, or suffering trough rough parts of his life. The most familiar face in the cast is Ian McShane, but his charter is presented in such a choppy way, I have no idea who his character was or how he figured in Bolden's life.

I saw this at a special screening with the writer director Dan Pritzker in attendance, and he acknowledged that no recording of Bolden exists and so little is known about Bolden that he has no idea if he invented jazz or not, he just thought it was a good tag line.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

3 May 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bolden! See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

King Bolden See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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