Theatrical Release: December 27, 2008
DVD Release: June 24, 2008


It’s a make-or-break weekend in 1950 Rural Alabama for the Honeydripper Lounge and its owner, piano player Tyrone “Pine Top” Purvis. Deep in debt, Tyrone is desperate to lure the young cotton pickers and local Army base recruits into his juke joint, away from the rival joint across the way. After firing his regular talent, blues singer Bertha Mae, Tyrone announces to his sidekick Maceo that he has hired the famous electric guitar player, Guitar Sam, for a special one night only gig: pack ’em in and save the club. On the day of the show, the train arrives and Guitar Sam is nowhere to be found. Tyrone is forced to take drastic action. He makes a deal with Sheriff Pugh to release Sonny, the kid who hopped off a freight car in Harmony, and turned up in the club claiming he could play the guitar as well as any Guitar Sam. Tyrone cleans Sonny up and launches a last ditch scheme to pass off the young guitar picker as Guitar Sam just long enough to cut the lights and run off with the cash box. When Sonny takes the stage and launches into his first scalding electric licks Tyrone will learn if it’s lights out for the Honeydripper or if his luck has changed; he might just be another man saved by rock ‘n’ roll.

Dove Review

This movie has its moments, especially for those who enjoy some blues or jazz. A talented cast acts in this production, including Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Stacy Keach, and Mary Steenburgen. However, it is in the content arena that the picture fails as being a family-friendly film. There are close to thirty words of strong language in the movie, and that is a lot. In addition, the protagonist of the film, Tyrone “Pine Top” Purvis (Danny Glover), plans to trick the public with a scheme in which he runs off with the cash at a one-night-only gig featuring the popular Guitar Sam. Tyrone manipulates several situations and even steals cash from his wife’s savings, which is supposed to be for their daughter’s education. He is about to lose his club and is desperate. If a few of these issues, and the language, had been toned down, we could have awarded our Dove Seal to the movie. Unfortunately, this picture falls short in meeting Dove’s guidelines and therefore prevents us from doing so.

Content Description

Faith: None
Integrity: None
Sex: A few sexual innuendos.
Language: H-6 (Once as a location); S-2; D-11; A-6; P-1; Racial slang spoken by blacks (ni*gge*)-3; Spook-1.
Violence: A few fights; in one a man is stabbed and some blood is seen.
Drugs: Several scenes of smoking and drinking.
Nudity: None
Other: A main character lies to people and also steals some liquor intended for another tavern; he plans to flee with a night's income from his place and not pay some people what he owes them; there are really no repercussions as everything works out ok for him; a black man looking for work is wrongfully arrested as a vagrant and put to work picking cotton.


Company: Screen Media
Writer: John Sayles
Director: John Sayles
Producer: Maggi Renzi
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 123 min.
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter