Robert Townsend’s 1991 classic The Five Heartbeats, a film about a fictional 1960s vocal group, is the subject of a new documentary, Making The Five Heartbeats. The documentary was screened in 500 theaters Monday, courtesy of Fathom Events.
The documentary is described by the press release as “a love letter to the movie’s fans as well as a master-class on filmmaking,” complete with “behind-the-scenes footage and personal stories” with the film’s stars, Townsend, Leon Robinson (otherwise known as just Leon), Harry J. Lennix, Michael Wright, Tico Wells and Hawthorne James as well as the film’s co-writer Keenen Ivory Wayans.
According to the release, Townsend said the documentary is for the fans who “have seen the movie more than once, for those that ask me when I’ll revisit ‘The Five Heartbeats’ with a sequel, for those that love the R&B/soul groups that changed the musical landscape of America, and to all that want to dive deeper into this movie’s creation.”
One of the elements fans will learn more about is that Whitney Houston was once considered to be a part of the film. In an interview with Billboard, Townsend said he thought a name like Houston’s would “add some sizzle because I had cast all unknown actors.”
“So for the character of Baby Doll I was like, ‘I’m gonna go after Whitney,’ because of the music.”
He told Billboard that while Houston’s father, John Houston Jr., seemed to love the idea, Houston’s agent thought something entirely different.
“Her father’s looking like it’s gonna be the greatest thing since sliced bread for her,” he said to the outlet. “Then the next thing you know the agent says the role is too small. It was a whole little journey with her.”
This is just one of the many stories Towsend and the cast will discuss during the interview for fans of this cult classic.
“I’m humbled by your ongoing love for The Five Heartbeats and proud to be bringing you Making The Five Heartbeats,” said Townsend in the press release.