Robert Townsend helmed choreographer The Five Heartbeats, a 1991 musical drama movie he co-wrote alongside Keenen Ivory Wayans. Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon Robinson, Harry J. Lennix, Tico Wells, Harold Nicholas, as well as Diahann Carroll star in the picture, which was produced and released by 20th Century Fox. The storey follows the rhythm as well as blues-singing quartet The Five Heartbeats over the course of three decades. Through the perspective of one of the Heartbeats, Donald “Duck” Matthews, the movie recounts the growth and demise of a Motown influenced soul group.
On March 29, 1991, the picture was released like most North American audiences; nevertheless, this was not distributed to viewers on other continents before 2002, when this was published on DVD.
In 2006, the movie’s 15th anniversary was commemorated with a new DVD. Critics have given the film mixed reviews.
Robert Townsend had achieved near-cult status between many independent filmmakers within a week of writing, producing, directing, as well as film stars for his first movie, Hollywood Shuffle—a project that caused him to max out all of his credit cards as well as spend nearly $100,000 of his own funds earned thru all the savings as well as various acting jobs in order to produce the movie. When creating Townsend’s first studio feature, The Five Heartbeats, he and Wayans put comedy at the forefront of the storey while simultaneously delving deeper into fascinating characters.
In 1988, Warner Bros. signed a development contract for The Five Heartbeats, which starred Keenan Ivory Wayans, his brother Damon, and many others. The Wayans went further to produce and appear in the Fox sketch comedy show In Living Color after Warner passed over the concept.
Heartbeats were relaunched by Townsend at 20th Century Fox in 1990. Townsend had a tiny appearance inside the 1984 movie Streets of Fire as a member of both the fictional Motown-style group “The Sorels.” Townsend had visited with former lead vocalists David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick well with the idea of recruiting them as technical consultants for his original screenplay, which was influenced by the careers and lives of Motown group The Temptations.