IMDb > Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
Lady Sings the Blues
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Lady Sings the Blues (1972) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.1/10   2,288 votes »
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Up 7% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Chris Clark (screenplay)
Suzanne De Passe (screenplay)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Lady Sings the Blues on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
12 October 1972 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Diana Ross IS Billie Holiday See more »
Plot:
The story of the troubled life and career of the legendary Jazz singer, Billie Holiday. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Ross's Truly Once-in-Her-Lifetime Turn as Lady Day Dominates Overly Customized Biopic See more (38 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)

Diana Ross ... Billie Holiday

Billy Dee Williams ... Louis McKay

Richard Pryor ... Piano Man

James T. Callahan ... Reg Hanley (as James Callahan)
Paul Hampton ... Harry

Sid Melton ... Jerry
Virginia Capers ... Mama Holiday
Yvonne Fair ... Yvonne

Isabel Sanford ... The Madame
Tracee Lyles ... The Prostitute

Ned Glass ... The Agent
Milton Selzer ... The Doctor

Norman Bartold ... The Detective #1
Clay Tanner ... The Detective #2
Jester Hairston ... The Butler
Bert Kramer ... The Policeman
Paul Micale ... The Maitre d'
Michelle Aller ... The Singer
Byron Kane ... The Announcer
Barbara Minkus ... Radio Actress
Kay Lewis ... Angela DeMarco
Helen Lewis ... Debbie McGee

George Wyner ... The M.C.
Shirley Melline ... The Policewoman
Toby Russ ... The Jail Guard
Larry Duran ... Hood #1
Ernest Robinson ... Hood #2 (as Ernie Robinson)
Don McGovern ... Reporter #1 (as Don McGovern)
Dick Poston ... Reporter #2
Charles Woolf ... Reporter #3
Denise Denise ... Denise

Lynn Hamilton ... Aunt Ida
Victor Morosco ... Vic
Robert L. Gordy ... The Hawk
Harry Caesar ... The Rapist
Paulene Myers ... Mrs. Edson

Scatman Crothers ... Big Ben
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Darlene Conley
Jayne Kennedy ... Louis's Date (uncredited)
Eddie Smith ... Dean and Dean's waiter (uncredited)
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Directed by
Sidney J. Furie 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Chris Clark  screenplay
Suzanne De Passe  screenplay (as Suzanne de Passe)
William Dufty  book
Billie Holiday  book
Terence McCloy  screenplay

Produced by
Brad Dexter .... producer
Berry Gordy .... executive producer
Eddie Saeta .... associate producer
Jay Weston .... producer
James S. White .... producer
 
Original Music by
Michel Legrand 
 
Cinematography by
John A. Alonzo  (as John Alonzo)
 
Film Editing by
Argyle Nelson Jr.  (as Argyle Nelson)
 
Casting by
Joe Scully 
 
Production Design by
Carl Anderson 
 
Set Decoration by
Reg Allen 
 
Costume Design by
Ray Aghayan 
Bob Mackie 
 
Makeup Department
Cherie .... hair stylist
Don Schoenfeld .... makeup supervisor
 
Production Management
Millie Moore .... post-production supervisor
Eddie Saeta .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Charles Washburn .... assistant director
Irby Smith .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Gene Lauritzen .... construction coordinator
Carey Harris Jr. .... swing gang (uncredited)
Bill Hudson .... greensman (uncredited)
Jack Iannarelli .... props (uncredited)
John La Salandra .... construction supervisor (uncredited)
Maurice Larson .... painter (uncredited)
Richard M. Rubin .... props (uncredited)
Fred R. Simpson Jr. .... leadman (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
David Dockendorf .... sound re-recording mixer
Bill Ford .... sound mixer
Marvin E. Lewis .... cable person (uncredited)
Don Merritt .... boom operator (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Henry Millar .... special effects (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Ernest Robinson .... stunts
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Richard Hart .... gaffer
Kenneth Adams .... grip (uncredited)
Sherman Fulton .... electrician (uncredited)
Randy Glass .... best boy (uncredited)
Elisha Harris .... electrician (uncredited)
LeRoy Lydia .... grip (uncredited)
Sal Orefice .... electrician (uncredited)
Arnold L. Rich .... camera operator (uncredited)
Tom Sawyer .... dolly operator (uncredited)
Thomas Scott .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Orlando Suero .... still photographer (uncredited)
Joseph M. Wilcots .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Eddie Willis .... grip (uncredited)
 
Casting Department
Bob Cochran .... extras casting (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Elizabeth Courtney .... costumes executed by
Norma Koch .... costumes
Frank Somper .... furs
Pauline Campbell .... costumer (uncredited)
Kent James .... costumer (uncredited)
Cliff Langer .... costumer (uncredited)
Edna Taylor .... costumer (uncredited)
Joe Williams .... costumer (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Roberta Adye .... associate editor
Paul LaMastra .... assistant editor
 
Music Department
Gil Askey .... music supervisor
Ralph James Hall .... music editor
Ralph James Hall .... re-cut version
Ben Barrett .... music contractor (uncredited)
John Collins .... musician: guitar (uncredited)
June Edgerton .... music editor (uncredited)
Harry Edison .... musician: trumpet (uncredited)
 
Transportation Department
Gene Clinesmith .... transportation
George Alden .... mechanic (uncredited)
Edward Baken .... driver (uncredited)
James D. Brubaker .... transportation captain (uncredited)
Edward Charles .... driver (uncredited)
Dale Henry .... assistant transportation (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Janet Hubbard .... researcher
Louis McKay .... technical advisor
Lawrence Schiller .... montages
Lawrence Schiller .... title designer
Judy St. Gerard .... creative consultant
Michael Cooksey .... craft service (uncredited)
Stephen J. Fisher .... auditor (uncredited)
Terence McCloy .... dialogue coach (uncredited)
Steven P. Saeta .... assistant auditor (uncredited)
William Smith .... auditor (uncredited)
Vincent Tubbs .... unit publicist (uncredited)
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
144 min | West Germany:125 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
In Time magazine, Richard Corliss named Lady Sings the Blues as one of the Top 25 Important Movies on Race.See more »
Quotes:
Louis McKay:[offering Billie a $20 bill] You want my arm to fall off.See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Tain't Nobody's BusinessSee more »

FAQ

Midwest Premiere Happened When & Where?
See more »
26 out of 28 people found the following review useful.
Ross's Truly Once-in-Her-Lifetime Turn as Lady Day Dominates Overly Customized Biopic, 30 December 2005
Author: Ed Uyeshima from San Francisco, CA, USA

The recent death of Richard Pryor prompted me to look at the 2005 DVD package of 1972's "Lady Sings the Blues", which proves the then-young comedian to be a fine actor in the meaty supporting role of Piano Man. Even though he was a master stand-up comic, it's still too bad he never pursued roles of a similar dramatic caliber since he obviously had the talent. Similarly, Diana Ross never fulfilled the promise of her big screen debut in the title role as legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday (1915-59).

Bearing no physical and little vocal resemblance to Holiday, Ross somehow gets under her true-life character's skin much like Joaquin Phoenix does in "Walk the Line" or Jamie Foxx in "Ray". Thirty-three years have elapsed since I first saw this movie, and it is with a certain amount of regret that I report that Ross as an actress has not been anywhere near this good since then. Granted she only has three features under her belt, 1975's "Mahogany" reflected an ego run amok, and she was disturbingly miscast in 1978's "The Wiz". From the opening scene where she is suffering through heroin withdrawal in raw, harrowing detail to her sultrier nightclub performances, she manages to be incendiary by her sheer will. She is even convincing in the early scenes where she is barely a teenager. Her vocal performances really don't evoke Holiday's earthier style, though to Ross's credit, her vivid renditions of standards such as "Mean to Me", "Fine and Mellow" and "Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer)" don't sound like Supremes redux either.

This achievement is all the more impressive since director Sidney J. Furie, a journeyman filmmaker at best, has surrounded Ross with an unwieldy rags-to-riches biopic that should have been edited down from its 144-minute running time. The screenplay - credited to Chris Clark, Suzanne De Passe and Terence McCloy (none of whom wrote a movie script before or since) based in part on Holiday's autobiography - plays fast and loose with the facts and piles on the clichés in true Oscar-baiting fashion. The drug-related scenes are powerful, though they eventually start to feel like condescending plot devices to make the viewer sympathize with Holiday for the persecution she experienced at the hands of abusive men and a bigoted society. Moreover, as Furie discloses on the accompanying audio commentary, the dialogue for several scenes is improvised by the actors, for example, the unnecessarily lengthy Club Manhattan sequence, where the lack of discipline becomes wearing.

Contrary to the fact that Holiday's true life story has been well documented and interest in her legacy increased, the filmmakers altered events and people in order to maintain interest from what they thought were mainstream audiences at the time. Consequently, the character of Louis McKay, Holiday's love interest and eventual husband, played with toothsome charm by Billy Dee Williams, synthesizes a lot of men who came into her life and helped shape her career. The dramatized results leave out key figures of the jazz world like saxophonist Lester Young, trombonist Jimmy Monroe to whom Holiday was married, and record producer John Hammond, as well as Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Artie Shaw and Teddy Wilson--all important colleagues and mentors during the period covered in the film. Instead, we are given Holiday's story as filtered through Ross's own story, an observation confirmed by Ross herself on the accompanying 2005 making-of featurette.

When the music is true to the period, it's quite wonderful, but composer Michel Legrand composed some gauzy, anachronistic interludes that sound like symphonic outtakes from his work on "Brian's Song". The costumes also have a Vegas revue feel, no surprise since designer Bob Mackie's flamboyant, early 1970's style is on full display here. For such an overlong movie, the ending feels quite truncated as newspaper clips are used to telegraph her eventual fate as Ross triumphantly sings her signature song, "God Bless the Child", in Carnegie Hall. Credit Motown mogul and Ross's Svengali, Berry Gordy, for having the fortitude, foresight and tenacity to oversee the project, and the DVD hammers that point in not only the overemphatic, only partially insightful commentary by Furie, Gordy and artists' manager Shelly Berger but also the making-of featurette which features Ross looking strangely youthful and Williams at least looking his age. There are several deleted scenes included in the DVD with no additional commentary from Furie, none refurbished and all understandably excised from the final cut.

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If Diana had won the Oscar... Welch57
Not A Good Movie bbwoof2000
Is this the movie captgage-1
Song in the Beginning Emido0
Best choice in a remake of new bio GreenEggandHams
Anti-climax at the BAFTA's in 1973 Welch57
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