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still from Bird (Clint Eastwood, US 1988)


Clint Eastwood / US, 1988 / 160 min.

Clint Eastwood and jazz? It’s hard to imagine, however the later Dirty Harry was already playing jazz piano aged 15 and saw Charlie Parker at a Jazz at the Philharmonic gig. Bird is Eastwood’s homage to bebop’s genius leader.

poster Bird (Clint Eastwood, US 1988)

“America has produced two unique artforms,” Clint Eastwood concluded in an interview with the LA Times: “jazz and the western.” And the jazz fanatic and icon of the (spaghetti)western is passionate about both.

Bird is about the genius of Charlie Parker, played by the phenomenal Forest Whittaker, and pays homage to an innovative jazz style from the 1940s, outlining the final years of Parker’s life during which his heroin addiction got the upper hand.

The music is the focus: original Parker saxophone solos were incorporated into modern recordings, a technical feat pulled off by Eastwood’s preferred composer Lennie Niehaus, who, moreover, taught Forest Whitaker – who won in Cannes – to convincingly pretend to play sax.



Clint Eastwood

Production year




Original title



160 min.





Part of

All That Jazz

All That Jazz: a scintillating programme on jazz and film featuring classics, live performances and a focus on exceptional avant-garde and activist filmmakers with a passion for jazz. From Miles Davis to Vincent de Boer, from Sun Ra to Ornette Coleman.

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still from Bird (Clint Eastwood, US 1988)
still from Bird (Clint Eastwood, US 1988)
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