Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Luis Valdez|
|Produced by||Peter Burrell|
|Written by||Luis Valdez|
|Based on||Zoot Suit|
by Luis Valdez
Edward James Olmos
|Music by||Lalo Guerrero|
|Edited by||Jacqueline Cambas|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Zoot Suit is a 1981 film adaptation of the Broadway play Zoot Suit. Both the play and film were written and directed by Luis Valdez. The film stars Daniel Valdez, Edward James Olmos — both reprising their roles from the stage production — and Tyne Daly. Many members of the cast of the Broadway production also appeared in the film. Like the play, the film features music from Daniel Valdez and Lalo Guerrero, the "father of Chicano music."
In Zoot Suit, Luis Valdez weaves a story involving the real-life events of the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial — when a group of young Mexican-Americans were charged with murder — resulting in the racially fueled Zoot Suit Riots throughout Los Angeles. In the play, Henry Reyna (inspired by real-life defendant Hank Leyvas) is a pachuco gangster and his gang, who were unfairly prosecuted, are thrown in jail for a murder they did not commit. The play is set in the barrios of Los Angeles in the early 1940s against the backdrop of the Zoot Suit Riots and World War II. As in the play, Edward James Olmos portrays El Pachuco, an idealized Zoot Suiter, who functions as narrator throughout the story and serves as Henry's conscience.
- Daniel Valdez as Henry Reyna
- Edward James Olmos as El Pachuco
- Charles Aidman as George Shearer
- Tyne Daly as Alice Bloomfield
- John Anderson as Judge F.W. Charles
- Abel Franco as Enrique
- Bernadette Colognne as Legs
- Mike Gomez as Joey/Jose Castro
- Alma Martínez as Lupe
- Francis X. McCarthy as Press
- Lupe Ontiveros as Dolores
- Marco Rodríguez as Smiley/Ismael Torres
- Kelly Ward as Tommy/Thomas Roberts
- Kurtwood Smith as Sergeant Smith
- Dennis Stewart as Swabbie
- Robert Beltran as Lowrider
Zoot Suit holds a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 9 reviews.
The film was nominated for the 1982 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (won by Arthur). Luis Valdez won the 1983 Critics Award at the Festival du Film Policier de Cognac for Zoot Suit in Cognac, France.