Honeydripper Review

Honeydripper film still

Honeydripper is not only the slightly rude-sounding name of the shack at the heart of this Deep South story, but also its modus operandi.

Alabama, 1950. Tyrone ‘Pinetop’ Purvis’ Honeydripper bar is threatened by the landlord, the electric company and the drinks suppliers. So, for one night only, Pinetop (Danny Glover) decides to replace veteran blues singer Bertha Mae with hotshot radio star Guitar Sam.

Honeydripper is not only the slightly rude-sounding name of the shack at the heart of this Deep South story, but also its modus operandi. This is a sweet film that moves at its own pace, bathed in a golden glow. As we’ve learned from such fine fare as Lone Star, Limbo and Sunshine State, John Sayles is supreme at capturing a community, in this case cotton pickers, keen for a weekly night out to escape their troubles, at a time when live music is threatened by the jukebox.

He finds a neat metaphor for the progress of African-Americans in the piano, while the salvation afforded by the electric guitar is embraced as enthusiastically as Michael J Fox’s bravura finale in Back to the Future. You’d expect nothing less from a man who first made his name in the late '70s penning sharp creature features’ Piranha and Alligator.

There are plenty of wise one-liners, and while you always know where Honeydripper’s going, you couldn’t wish for a better way of getting there.

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