Musician Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere) plays at the Cotton Club, a jazz club in New York in the thirties. To further his career he hooks up with mobsters, but falls for the girlfriend, Vera Cicero (Diane Lane), of the leader of the pack, Dutch Schultz.
Dancers Sandman Williams (Gregory Hines) and his brother Clay are hired by the club. Owney Madden (Bob Hoskins), another mobster, owns and runs the place with Frenchy, his second-in-command.
With the help of Madden and his men, Dixie's star rises. Schultz doesn't like it very much, especially because he is still carrying on with Schultz's girl. Meanwhile, Dixie's brother Vincent (Nicolas Cage) joins Schultz's mob, complicating the situation even more.
Sandman and his brother Clay get estranged because Sandman accepts the invitation of Madden to dance solo. The inhumane treatment of the mostly black performers at the club, draws the attention of yet another criminal, Bumpy Rhodes (Laurence Fishburne), who intervenes to improve working conditions for them.
The film ends with Dutch Schultz being violently beaten by Madden's mobsters, during a joint performance of Dixie and Sandman on stage.
Best part of story, including ending:
It gives you an insight in race relations in certain circles of those days.
Best scene in story:
The dance performance of Sandman and his brother.
Opinion about the main character:
He is rather self-centered.