The Five Heartbeats is a 1991 musical drama film directed by Robert Townsend, who co-wrote the script with Keenen Ivory Wayans. Distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film's main cast includes Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon Robinson, Harry J. Lennix, Tico Wells, Harold Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers, and Diahann Carroll. The plot of the film (which is loosely based on the lives of several artists: The Dells, The Temptations, Four Tops, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Frankie Lymon, Sam Cooke and others) follows the three decade career of the R&B vocal group The Five Heartbeats. The film depicts the rise and fall of a Motown inspired soul act through the eyes of the film's main protagonist, Donald "Duck" Matthews (portrayed by Townsend), who serves as a narrator throughout the film. However, a majority of the cinema is presented in a consecutive time line as opposed to traditional flash backs.