The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
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Ray Charles has the distinction of being both a national treasure and an international phenomenon. By the early 1960s, Ray Charles had accomplished his dream. He had come of age musically and had made it to Carnegie Hall. The hit records "Georgia on My Mind" and "Born to Lose" successively kept climbing to the top of the charts. He had made his first triumphant European concert tour in 1960 (a feat which, except for 1965, he has repeated at least once a year ever since). He had taken virtually every form of popular music and broken through its boundaries with such awe inspiring achievements as the LP's "Genius Plus Soul Equals Jazz" and "Modern Sounds in Country & Western". Rhythm and blues (or "race music" as it had been called) became universally respectable through his efforts. Jazz found a mainstream audience it had never previously enjoyed. And country and western music began to chart an unexpected course to general acceptance, then worldwide popularity. And along the way, Ray ... Written by
Taylor Hackford says on his commentary that he made the decision to end the film in the middle of Ray's life because his later life consisted of no conflict, only success. See more »
The scene where Charles is met by a group of protesters outside the Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Ga. is a fabrication. Charles canceled his appearance after receiving a telegram from students at a local black college. The promoter successfully sued Charles for breach of contract, but he was never banned from the state of Georgia. When the Georgia state legislature honored Ray Charles in 1979, they didn't apologized for banning him because he was never banned. In the commentary, it is stated that this event actually happened, but those who looked into Georgia's legislature found no record that he was banned, just sued, and later they adopted as their state song "Georgia" - by Ray Charles. See more »
Always remember your promise to me. Never let nobody or nothing turn you into no cripple.
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The final shot of the movie contains a freeze frame of the real Ray Charles and underneath it reads the caption: "Ray Charles Robinson = 1930 - 2004" See more »
If someone had nudged me about 15 minutes into 'Ray' and asked what I thought of Jamie Foxx in the title role, it would have been time for a blank stare. After all, what is this (fictitious) person talking' about? That wasn't Jamie Foxx up on the big screen. That was Ray Charles. This is one of the best performances by anybody in recent years. Like the soundtrack, Jamie as Ray is flat-out brilliant.
The blind Genius of Soul (who took a revolutionary step of mixing gospel with R&B) died during production. The movie about his troubled life is good, not great. Taylor Hackford's direction and James L. White's script follow the well-worn biopic outline. Super-talented youngster battles adversity, achieves greatness while also self-destructing, then picks himself up out of the gutter for a happy ending. The film shows Charles' flaws (heroin abuse, chronic womanizing, persistent bastard-fathering) even as it sucks you in with his beautiful music.
Kerry Washington and Regina King play the main women in Ray's life, one his long-suffering wife and the other his longtime mistress. Both actresses match Foxx stride for stride. What takes him to a different level, though, is his deep understanding and uncanny impersonation of the great musician. The entire cast is effective, especially Sharon Warren as his headstrong mother and Curtis Armstrong as a music exec. Hackford's stars are likely to be rewarded with trophies and---better yet---more starring roles.
I was not a Ray Charles aficionado before 'Ray'. Apparently, the film has left out a lot (as do all biopics), but this picture functions as both an old-fashioned crowd pleaser AND a dark investigation of a brilliant/troubled man. For those who whine that Foxx doesn't actually sing (as if that somehow diminishes his performance), take a hike. No mere actor can sing like Mr. Charles anyway. You can't have everything. What the talented star does in this picture is about as close to "everything" as we'll probably see for a while.
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