Imagine what it would feel like to be the only black television star in Hollywood at a time when the KLU KLUX KLAN acted out violently against black people, when America groaned under the ...
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A documentary that celebrates Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the signature sound he developed in songs such as "I'll Take You There", "Brown Sugar", and "When a Man Loves a Woman".
Imagine what it would feel like to be the only black television star in Hollywood at a time when the KLU KLUX KLAN acted out violently against black people, when America groaned under the weight of segregation and prejudice. Imagine being in possession of a natural talent so great, so unique and disarming that these issues were seemingly swept to one side to allow you to perform and be acknowledged for this gift, yet behind closed doors they were trying to think of a way to package you as something you were not: white. This candid account of the actual happenings in and around the "fairytale" life of fame and fortune of Nat King Cole, are taken from the private journals of Nat King Cole and exclusive interviews with the widow of Nat King Cole, Maria Cole, as well as contributions from other family members, Tony Bennett, Buddy Greco, Harry Bellafonte, Nancy Wilson, Sir Bruce Forsythe, George Benson, Aaron Neville, Johnny Mathis and many more. Some of these shocking stories have never ... Written by
Reverential Documentary That Lacks the Courage of its Convictions
Jon Brewer's documentary traces the life and singing career of Nat King Cole, with the help of several contributors including his widow and children, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Buddy Greco, Harry Belafonte and a host of others. We learn a lot about Cole's phenomenal talent both as a singer and pianist; and how, as his career progressed, he minimized his talent as a pianist so as to concentrate on his singing career. We also learn something of the difficulties he faced as an African American trying to prosper in a segregated society; on several occasions, while playing gigs in major centers like Las Vegas, he was forced to stay in squalid colored-only hotels, while the Euros enjoyed the benefits of first class accommodation. In the end Cole was rewarded with his own national television series on NBC; but it only ran for one season, as many stations in the South refused to broadcast it. Cole showed what was possible for an African American, so long as they were sufficiently talented, but he did it in an unaggressive way; what emerges most tangibly from Brewer's film is that he was a gentleman in all senses of the word. Although the film is ninety minutes long, we do not learn much about Cole's character; nor is there sufficient attention given to his contributions to the Civil Rights movement. There are rather too many adulatory comments from the participants, and not enough time given over to historical analysis. Some kind of dating would have been useful as well; we are not told when the television series was broadcast, nor are we really given much information about other significant dates in Cole's career. NAT KING COLE - AFRAID OF THE DARK is certainly watchable, but it is something of a disappointment content-wise.
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