Rated: R for pervasive language and some sexuality Reviewed by: Chris Release date: December 5, 2008 Released by: Columbia TriStar
Writer/director Darnel Martin brings the rumble-tumble rhythm and blues records business to the screen with this musical drama.
Adrien Brody plays Leonard Chess, a flashy Chicago club owner in the 1940's. He starts a new record label headlining his club performers after his club burns down.
He's a shaky character who's willing to short change just about anyone he deals with. In fact, the title comes from the Cadillac cars he gives to his musical talent. They don't know they are actually paying for the gifts themselves, as he takes the cost of the cars from their royalty checks.
The story incorporates a "who's who" of blues stars. Jeffrey Wright plays Muddy Waters, a talented womanizer; Mos Def is legendary Chuck Berry, and Beyonce Knowles is Etta James.
Knowles has the look with a short platinum wig and tight wardrobe, and her warm, melodious voice evokes the essence of the great, but very troubled Miss James. However, she can't quite capture the depth of her voice.
This is a story filled with booze, drugs, colorful characters and great music.