The Five Heartbeats are similar to many talented black singing groups the 60's music scene produced. Donald "Duck" Matthews (Robert Townsend), the songwriter for the group; his brother J.T. (Lion) and boyhood friends lead singer Eddie (Michael Wright), Choirboy (Tico Wells) and Dresser (Harry Lennix) struggled for recognition by performing in local talent shows and in small, sleazy clubs until they hit it big with a number one single, The boys hook up with Jimmy (Chuck Patterson) who manages their career from the beginning. Elegant Diahann Carroll appears briefly as Jimmy's loving wife.
The group deals with Eddie's alcohol and drug addictions, the Matthew brothers'
jealousies and a corrupt record producer. It's not all dismal; there are numerous lively musical numbers, complete with flashy footwork and dazzling costumes. The highlight of the film is a terrific duet with Duck and his little sister (Tressa Thomas) in their cramped bedroom; she has a voice that's bigger than she is.
Townsend co-wrote, co-produced and directed this entertaining film, loosely based on the singing group, The Dells. It's a funny, feel-good movie that's full of hope and energy.
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