Rhythm-and-blues artists such as the Temptations and Sam Cooke served as the inspiration for filmmaker Robert Townsend's ambitious movie about five urban friends who climb the stairway to stardom.
Five friends leave their poor neighborhood and head for a new type of music - Motown - in this exciting film starring Diahann Carroll, Leon, and Robert Townsend (who also directs).
Loosely based on the life and times of several R&B artists, The Five Heartbeats traces the rise and fall of a popular African-American 1950s singing aggregation. The story is told by one of the "Heartbeats," played by Robert Townsend. The film is an amalgam of anecdotes drawn from real-life experiences: the long struggle upward, the first rush of success, the dishonest executives, the hard-nosed but nurturing managers, the sex, the drugs, the isolation and the precipitous downward slide.
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