The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Distinguished Gentleman (1992)

"The Distinguished Gentleman" (1992) is a political comedy starring Eddie Murphy. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) is responsible for releasing the movie, which is the first film Murphey did not make with Paramount Pictures. Jonathan Lynn directed the movie, and Marty Kaplan and Jonathan Reynolds wrote the screenplay. The film also features Sherly Lee Ralph, Charles Dutton, Victoria Rowell, Chi McBride, and Sonny Jim Gaines.

By 1992, Eddie Murphy was a massive movie star. He starred in two films released that year, one of which included "Boomerang." During this period, it seemed like there wasn't much Murphy couldn't do, and "The Distinguished Gentlemen" was another testament to how he attempted to expand himself. Murphy plays a con man who used his tricks to run for Congress of the same name as a senator that just past. And for most cons, the main goal is getting money. Unfortunately, the film mainly received negative reviews and is one of the primary Eddie Murphy movies that people hardly mention, especially considering he was in the prime of his career. 

Sheryl Lee Ralph was well into her career by 1992, appearing in over 20 movies and TV shows. Her acting career in film started in the 1977 movie "A Piece of the Action" with Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. Afterward, she starred in the soap opera "Search for Tomorrow," the TV show "It's a Living," and the underrated movie "The Mighty Quinn" (1989) with Denzel Washington. She also starred in the classic film by Charles Burnett, "To Sleep with Anger" (1990). In addition, Charles S. Dutton established his film career in 1985 and appeared in several movies and TV shows. He earned a significant role in "Alien 3," which helped further his filmmaking profession after "The Distinguished Gentleman."

Other supporting cast members in Victoria Rowell and Chi McBride, which this movie marked as breakthrough moments for them both. Rockwell started acting in 1986 in the film "Leonard Part 6." "The Distinguished Gentleman" was McBride's first theatrical film. Sonny Jim Gaines began performing in 1972, appearing in many black-themed TV movies such as "Just an Old Sweet Song" (1976), "I Know What they Caged Bird Sings" (1978), and "The Sophisticated Gents" (1981).

"The Distinguished Gentleman" was not a box office flop. However, it's a film worth noting, and it displays Murphy differently than people are used to seeing him.

Director: Jonathan Lynn
Writers: Marty Kaplan (story), Jonathan Reynolds (story)

Starring Eddie Murphy, Lane Smith, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Joe Don Baker, Victoria Rowell, Grant Shaud, Kevin McCarthy, Charles S. Dutton, Victor Rivers, Chi McBride, Sonny Jim Gaines, Noble Willingham, Frances Foster, Della Reese, James Garner

In the conniving world of politics, even a professional shyster like Thomas Jefferson Johnson (Eddie Murphy) can find himself outmatched. After using name recognition to get elected, Johnson enjoyed many of the same financial perks as other politicians. However, while investigating the connection between electric companies and cancer in young children, he unexpectedly develops a conscience. Unfortunately, fellow Congressman Dick Dodge (Lane Smith) isn't about to let him rock the boat.