Zoot Suit

Zoot Suit

Luis Valdez (1981)

bbfc_rating|ages_15_and_over Certificate


Our Score
Luis Valdez directed this film adaptation of his hit stage musical, which is loosely based on the 1940s Sleepy Lagoon murder trial that unfairly convicted several Mexican-American zoot suit gang members. Except for the spirited musical numbers and an arresting performance by Edward James Olmos as the cynical conscience of gang member Daniel Valdez, the movie largely fails to bring the impact it had on stage. It's shot on a sound stage with a visible audience watching, which creates a barrier that makes it hard for the viewer to feel the anguish the characters go through. The exaggerated, theatrical acting style also doesn't help.


When barrio leader Henry Reyna (Daniel Valdez) and a group of his friends are unjustly convicted on circumstantial evidence during the "zoot suit riots" that rocked 1940s Los Angeles and sent to San Quentin, activist lawyers Alice Bloomfield (Tyne Daly) and George Shearer (Charles Aidman) fight the blatant racially motivated miscarriage of justice to win Henry and his friends their freedom.

Cast & Crew

Henry Reyna Daniel Valdez
El Pachuco Edward James Olmos
George Charles Aidman
Alice Tyne Daly
Judge John Anderson
Enrique Abel Franco
Joey Mike Gomez
Director Luis Valdez
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourAvailable on: DVD