Best Movies, Classics, Drama, History, Musical

The Best Jazz Movies Of All-Time

“What are the best movies about or featuring Jazz Music And Musicians?” We looked at 147 of the top Jazz films, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 27 films, all appearing on 3 or more “Best Jazz” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 100+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 27 Jazz Movies



27 .) A Man Called Adam (1966)

 A Man Called Adam (1966) Lists It Appears On:

  • Common Reader
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

A famous jazz trumpeter finds himself unable to cope with the problems of everyday life.

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26 .) All That Jazz (1979)

 All That Jazz (1979) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Wikipedia

Joe Gideon is at the top of the heap, one of the most successful directors and choreographers in musical theater. But he can feel his world slowly collapsing around him – his obsession with work has almost destroyed his personal life, and only his bottles of pills keep him going.

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25 .) Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

 Anatomy of a Murder (1959) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • MUBI
  • U Discover Music

The film pits a humble small-town lawyer against a hard-headed big city prosecutor. Emotions flare as a jealous army lieutenant pleads innocent to murdering the rapist of his seductive, beautiful wife.

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24 .) Black and Tan (1929)

 Black and Tan (1929) Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Jonathan Rosenbaum
  • Wikipedia

Short film featuring Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.

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23 .) Jammin’ the Blues (1944)

 Jammin' the Blues (1944) Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Jonathan Rosenbaum
  • Wikipedia

Highly stylized chronicle of a jam session featuring Lester Young.

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22 .) Jivin’ in Be-Bop (1946)

 Jivin' in Be-Bop (1946) Lists It Appears On:

  • Fly Paper
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

A filmed variety show featuring the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra with special guests.

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21 .) Let’s Get Lost (1988)

 Let’s Get Lost (1988) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • DW
  • Fly Paper

Documentary about jazz great Chet Baker that intercuts footage from the 1950s, when he was part of West Coast Cool, and from his last years. We see the young Baker, he of the beautiful face, in California and in Italy, where he appeared in at least one movie and at least one jail cell (for drug possession). And, we see the aged Baker, detached, indifferent, his face a ruin. Includes interviews with his children and ex-wife, women companions, and musicians.

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20 .) Miles Ahead (2015)

 Miles Ahead (2015) Lists It Appears On:

  • Female First
  • Fly Paper
  • Wikipedia

An exploration of the life and music of Miles Davis.

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19 .) Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955)

 Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

In 1927 Kansas City Pete Kelly and his jazz band play nightly at a speakeasy. A local gangster starts to move in on them and when their drummer is killed Kelly gives in…

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18 .) Sweet Smell of Success

 Sweet Smell of Success Lists It Appears On:

  • Common Reader
  • MUBI
  • U Discover Music

New York City newspaper writer J.J. Hunsecker holds considerable sway over public opinion with his Broadway column, but one thing that he can’t control is his younger sister, Susan, who is in a relationship with aspiring jazz guitarist Steve Dallas. Hunsecker strongly disproves of the romance and recruits publicist Sidney Falco to find a way to split the couple, no matter how ruthless the method.

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17 .) The Connection (1961)

 The Connection (1961) Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Mens Journal
  • Wikipedia

Eight drug addicts are waiting for their connection in a New York apartment belonging to Leach. Jim Dunn, a budding filmmaker, has agreed to pay for the fix if the addicts will allow him to film the connection scene. After the men get their shots, they talk Dunn into trying heroin in order to understand the subject “first hand.” He becomes ill and while sleeping, Leach takes an overdose that puts him into a coma. Dunn recovers, with the aid of the connection, and writes off the film as a failure.

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16 .) The Gene Krupa Story (1959)

 The Gene Krupa Story (1959) Lists It Appears On:

  • Common Reader
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

The story of legendary jazz drummer, Gene Krupa. Since his youth, all Gene ever wanted to do is play the drums and make music. This is something his parents would not approve of- they want him to be a priest. When Gene’s father dies he promises to enter the priesthood. He soon realizes that he doesn’t belong there and leaves to join his friend, Eddie’s band. Ethel, Eddie’s girlfriend, convinces Gene to go to New York and make it big. The 3 of them head to New York. Here Ethel and Gene soon fall in love and Gene makes a name for himself. Gene starts to live in the fast lane, with drugs, alcohol, women and parties. Ethel, unhappy with Gene’s lifestyle, leaves him. Gene soon “hits rock bottom” where he has to face reality and choose where to take his life.

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15 .) The Man with a Golden Arm (1955)

 The Man with a Golden Arm (1955) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • IMDB
  • U Discover Music

A junkie must face his true self to kick his drug addiction.

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14 .) Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959)

 Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • IMDB
  • U Discover Music
  • Wikipedia

Set at the Newport jazz festival in 1958, this documentary mixes images of water and the town with performers and audience. The film progresses from day to night and from improvisational music to Gospel. It’s a concert film that suggests peace and leisure, jazz at a particular time and place.

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13 .) Stormy Weather (1943)

 Stormy Weather (1943) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Female First
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

Dancing great Bill Williamson sees his face on the cover of Theatre World magazine and reminisces: Just back from World War I, he meets lovely singer Selina Rogers at a soldiers’ ball and promises to come back to her when he “gets to be somebody.” Years go by, and Bill and Selina’s rising careers intersect only briefly, since Selina is unwilling to “settle down.” Will she ever change her mind? Concludes with a big all-star show hosted by Cab Calloway.

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12 .) The Benny Goodman Story (1955)

 The Benny Goodman Story (1955) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Common Reader
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

The Benny Goodman Story is a biographical film starring Steve Allen and Donna Reed, directed by Valentine Davies and released by Universal Studios in 1956. The film is based on the life of famed clarinetist Benny Goodman, who recorded most of the clarinet solos used in the film. The film captures several major moments in Goodman’s life but it has been described as less than accurate in details. Goodman’s Jewish background is never explicitly mentioned, despite it playing a part in his artistic and personal endeavors for decades. In one scene, where his mother tries to talk him out of a romance with Alice Hammond, played by Donna Reed, whom Goodman eventually married, she says, “Bagels and caviar don’t mix.”

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11 .) The Cotton Club (1984)

 The Cotton Club (1984) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • DW
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

The story of the people that frequented Harlem’s famous nightclubs, ‘The Cotton Club’, and those that ran it.

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10 .) Young Man with a Horn (1950)

 Young Man with a Horn (1950) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Common Reader
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

Legendary trumpeter Art Hazzard teaches young Rick Martin everything he knows about playing, so Rick becomes a star musician, but a troubled marriage and the desire to play pure jazz instead of commercial swing songs cause him problems.

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9 .) Kansas City (1996)

 Kansas City (1996) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Common Reader
  • DW
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

Robert Altman’s story is a riff on race, class, and power cross-cuts between the two kidnappings and the background of corrupt politics and virtuoso jazz music. It all takes place in Kansas City in 1934.

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8 .) Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

 Lady Sings the Blues (1972) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Common Reader
  • Female First
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

Chronicles the rise and fall of legendary blues singer Billie Holiday. Her late childhood, stint as a prostitute, early tours, marriages and drug addiction are featured.

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7 .) Paris Blues (1961)

 Paris Blues (1961) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Common Reader
  • IMDB
  • Mens Journal
  • Wikipedia

Ram Bowen and Eddie Cook are two expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris where, unlike America at the time, Jazz musicians are celebrated and racism is a non-issue. When they meet and fall in love with two young American girls, Lillian and Connie, who are vacationing in France, Ram and Eddie must decide whether they should move back to America with them, or stay in Paris for the freedom it allows them. Ram, who wants to be a serious composer, finds Paris more exciting than America and is reluctant to give up his music for a relationship, and Eddie wants to stay for the city’s more tolerant racial atmosphere.

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6 .) Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

 Sweet and Lowdown (1999) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Common Reader
  • DW
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

A comedic biopic focused on the life of fictional jazz guitarist Emmett Ray. Ray was an irresponsible, free-spending, arrogant, obnoxious, alcohol-abusing, miserable human being, who was also arguably the best guitarist in the world.

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5 .) The Glenn Miller Story (1953)

 The Glenn Miller Story (1953) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Common Reader
  • DW
  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

A vibrant tribute to one of America’s legendary bandleaders, charting Glenn Miller’s rise from obscurity and poverty to fame and wealth in the early 1940s.

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4 .) Mo’ Better Blues (1990)

 Mo' Better Blues (1990) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • DW
  • Fly Paper
  • IMDB
  • Mens Journal
  • Wikipedia

Opens with Bleek as a child learning to play the trumpet, his friends want him to come out and play but mother insists he finish his lessons. Bleek grows into adulthood and forms his own band – The Bleek Gilliam Quartet. The story of Bleek’s and Shadow’s friendly rivalry on stage which spills into their professional relationship and threatens to tear apart the quartet.

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3 .) The Jazz Singer (1927)

 The Jazz Singer (1927) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Arcadia System
  • Female First
  • Jazz On Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

A young Jewish man is torn between tradition and individuality when his old-fashioned family objects to his career as a jazz singer. This is the first full length feature film to use synchronized sound, and is the original film musical.

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2 .) Bird (1988)

 Bird (1988) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • DW
  • Female First
  • Fly Paper
  • IMDB
  • Jonathan Rosenbaum
  • Mens Journal
  • U Discover Music
  • Wikipedia

Saxophone player Charlie Parker comes to New York in 1940. He is quickly noticed for his remarkable way of playing. He becomes a drug addict but his loving wife Chan tries to help him.

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1 .) Round Midnight (1986)

 Round Midnight (1986) Lists It Appears On:

  • Arcadia System
  • Common Reader
  • DW
  • Fly Paper
  • IMDB
  • Mens Journal
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • U Discover Music
  • Wikipedia

Inside the Blue Note nightclub one night in 1959 Paris, an aged, ailing jazzman coaxes an eloquent wail from his tenor sax. Outside, a young Parisian too broke to buy a glass of wine strains to hear those notes. Soon they will form a friendship that sparks a final burst of genius in director Bertrand Tavernier

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The 100+ Additional Best Jazz Movies



 

# Movies Lists
(Films Appear On 2 Lists Each)
28 A Song Is Born (1948)
Arcadia System
Wikipedia
29 A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Arcadia System
MUBI
30 Alfie MUBI
U Discover Music
31 All Night Long (1962) IMDB
Wikipedia
32 American Blue Note (1989) IMDB
Wikipedia
33 Begone Dull Care (1949) IMDB
Wikipedia
34 Blinkity Blank (1955) IMDB
Wikipedia
35 Blue Rhythm (1931) IMDB
Wikipedia
36 Boogie-Doodle (1948) IMDB
Wikipedia
37 Born to Be Blue DW
Wikipedia
38 Breathless MUBI
U Discover Music
39 Cabin in the Sky (1943)
Arcadia System
IMDB
40 Chasing Trane (2016) Fly Paper
U Discover Music
41 Chicago (2002)
Arcadia System
Wikipedia
42 Chico & Rita (2010) IMDB
Wikipedia
43 Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943) IMDB
Wikipedia
44 I Want to Live (1958)
Arcadia System
U Discover Music
45 Jam Session (1942) IMDB
Wikipedia
46 Just Friends (1993) IMDB
Wikipedia
47 Knife In The Water MUBI
U Discover Music
48 La La Land DW
Wikipedia
49 Naked Lunch MUBI
U Discover Music
50 One Night with Blue Note (1985) IMDB
Wikipedia
51 Play Misty for Me (1971) IMDB
Wikipedia
52 Rhythmatics (2010) IMDB
Wikipedia
53 Shadows (1959) MUBI
Wikipedia
54 Space Is the Place (1974) IMDB
Wikipedia
55 St. Louis Blues (1958)
Arcadia System
Wikipedia
56 Sugar Chile Robinson, Billie Holiday, Count Basie and His Sextet IMDB
Wikipedia
57 Swing Kids (1993) IMDB
Wikipedia
58 The Five Pennies (1959)
Arcadia System
Common Reader
59 The Gig (1985)
Arcadia System
Common Reader
60 The Spirit Moves: A History of Black Social Dance on Film (1987) IMDB
Wikipedia
61 The Tic Code (1998) IMDB
Wikipedia
62 Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988) IMDB
Jonathan Rosenbaum
63 Three Little Bops (1957) IMDB
Wikipedia
64 Whiplash (2014)
U Discover Music
Wikipedia
(Films Appear On 1 Lists Each)
65 À Bout De Souffle
U Discover Music
66 A Great Day in Harlem
Jonathan Rosenbaum
67 A tie between two flawed but fragrant blossoms of the ’60s: Shirley Clarke’s 1962 The Connection
Jonathan Rosenbaum
68 Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud
U Discover Music
69 Bird Clint Eastwood’s 1988 take on the most mythical and most hedonistic of all jazz musicians, saxophonist Charlie Parker, who lived fast and greedily and died young and grotesquely
Common Reader
70 Birth of Jazz Wikipedia
71 Birth of the Blues (1941)
Arcadia System
72 Black Orpheus MUBI
73 Blow-Up
U Discover Music
74 Blues in the Night (1941) IMDB
75 Bolden! (2011)
Arcadia System
76 Bombay Velvet Wikipedia
77 Bullitt
U Discover Music
78 Cabaret
Arcadia System
79 Chinatown
U Discover Music
80 Chocolat MUBI
81 Cleopatra Jones MUBI
82 Crazed Fruit MUBI
83 Dingo (1990)
Arcadia System
84 Down by Law MUBI
85 EDDIE PRÉVOST BLOOD
Jazz On Film
86 Elevator to the Gallows, MUBI
87 Farewell, My Lovely
U Discover Music
88 FINDING CARLTON
Jazz On Film
89 Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench Wikipedia
90 It Happened in Harlem Wikipedia
91 Jazz (2001) IMDB
92 JAZZ BRITANNIA
Jazz On Film
93 Jazz Rhythm Wikipedia
94 Joe Lovano Interviews Wayne Shorter (2013) Fly Paper
95 KEN SYKORA:THE MAN WITH THE JAZZ GUITAR
Jazz On Film
96 King of Jazz Wikipedia
97 Last Tango In Paris
U Discover Music
98 Les Stances A Sophie
U Discover Music
99 Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones (1990) IMDB
100 Louis (2010)
Arcadia System
101 Lush Life (1993)
Arcadia System
102 Man Outside MUBI
103 MARIAN MCPARTLAND: IN GOOD TIME
Jazz On Film
104 Midnight in Paris (2011) IMDB
105 Miles in Paris Wikipedia
106 Music Land Wikipedia
107 New Orleans (1947)
Arcadia System
108 New York, New York
Common Reader
109 Odds Against Tomorrow
U Discover Music
110 Orchestra Wives
Common Reader
111 Our Dancing Daughters (1928)
Arcadia System
112 Paradise in Harlem (1939)
Arcadia System
113 Ragtime (1980)
Arcadia System
114 Rhapsody in Blue (1945)
Arcadia System
115 Rock ‘n’ Rodent Wikipedia
116 Rosemary’s Baby MUBI
117 Round
Jonathan Rosenbaum
118 Saturday Evening Puss Wikipedia
119 Sexus MUBI
120 Shaft MUBI
121 Some Like it Hot
Taste Of Cinema
122 Summer Flight MUBI
123 Superfly MUBI
124 Sweet Love, Bitter
Common Reader
125 Swing Girls Wikipedia
126 Syncopation
Taste Of Cinema
127 Taxi Blues MUBI
128 The Cool World
U Discover Music
129 The Fabulous Baker Boys (1990)
Female First
130 The First Time I Turned Twenty Wikipedia
131 The Great Gatsby
Arcadia System
132 The Hustler
U Discover Music
133 The Long Goodbye
Jonathan Rosenbaum
134 The Pawnbroker
U Discover Music
135 The Rat Race Wikipedia
136 The Strip
Common Reader
137 The Subject is Jazz Wikipedia
138 The Terminal (2004) IMDB
139 The Thomas Crown Affair
U Discover Music
140 To Have and Have Not
Jonathan Rosenbaum
141 Too Late Blues Wikipedia
142 TRAD
Jazz On Film
143 Trouble in Mind MUBI
144 Tune in Tomorrow (1990)
Arcadia System
145 Waltz for Monica Wikipedia
146 We Cellar Children Wikipedia
147 When it Rains
Jonathan Rosenbaum


13 Best Movies About Jazz Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
Arcadia System Jazz/Jazz Age Films: 1920s-Present
Common Reader Horns On Film | Common Reader
DW 10 great films about jazz – Deutsche Welle
Female First Top 7 Jazz Movies – Female First
Fly Paper Here Are Our 8 Favorite Films About Jazz Horn Players – Soundfly
IMDB JAZZ MOVIES – IMDb
Jazz On Film jazzonfilm.com – where to find jazz musicians in the movies
Jonathan Rosenbaum The Ten Best Jazz Films (1999 list) | Jonathan Rosenbaum
Mens Journal The Best Jazz Movies – Men’s Journal
MUBI Birth of the Cool: Jazz in Film – Movies List on MUBI
Taste Of Cinema The 10 Best Movies About Jazz « Taste of Cinema – Movie Reviews …
U Discover Music Best Jazz Soundtracks: 25 Essential Albums You Should Own …
Wikipedia Category:Jazz films – Wikipedia

 

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