This biography of Dorothy Dandridge follows her career through early days on the club circuit with her sister to her turn in movies, including becoming the first black actress to win a Best... See full summary »
Klaus Maria Brandauer
Born poor in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker achieved fame and fortune through her sizzlingly exotic, erotic performances. Starting life on the American Vaudeville circuit, success ... See full summary »
A plantation owner's son falls in love with a slave named Easter and together they have a Mixed race daughter named Queen. As Queen grows up, she faces the struggle of trying to fit into ... See full summary »
In 1950s Massachusetts, a wealthy black woman engaged to a poor white beatnik learns about her family history. The stories revolve around the racial and class complexities of interracial and class-based marriages.
The Jacksons are your average working-class family in Gary, Indiana; but when their father discovers the kids have an extraordinary musical talent they form a band. Winning talent show ... See full summary »
An observable, fast-talking party man Darnell Wright, gets his punishment when one of his conquests takes it personally and comes back for revenge in this 'Fatal Attraction'-esque comic ... See full summary »
Darius Lovehall is a young black poet in Chicago who starts dating Nina Mosley, a beautiful and talented photographer. While trying to figure out if they've got a "love thing" or are just "... See full summary »
A drama centered on a go-go dancer with multiple personality disorder who struggles to remain her true self and begins working with a psychotherapist to uncover the mystery of the inner ghosts that haunt her.
In the mid-1980s, three women (each with an attorney) arrive at the office of New York entertainment manager Morris Levy. One is a singer from Los Angeles, formerly of the Platters; one is a petty thief from Philadelphia; one teaches high school in a small Georgia town. Each claims to be the widow of long-dead doo-wop singer-songwriter Frankie Lyman, and each wants years of royalties due to his estate, money Levy has never shared. During an ensuing civil trial, flashbacks tell the story of each one's life with Lyman, a boyish, high-pitched, dynamic performer, lost to heroin. Slowly, the three widows come together and establish their own bond.Written by
Toni Braxton was set for a role in the film, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. See more »
Elizabeth Waters testified in court that she first met Frankie in 1961, but in the flashback to their first meeting, the music playing on the department store stereo is "Walk On The Wild Side", not released in 1962. See more »
Director Gregory Nava misunderstands the complex, drug-addicted Frankie Lymon getting some of it right and much of it wrong.
His fatal mistake from beginning to end is playing Frankie as a late teen instead of the 13 teen year old he was. This deprives one and all of seeing the simple true source of Frankie's problems. Too much fame, too fast and too young. Larenz Tate struggles with the role where he sometimes looks more like a young Sammy Davis than Frankie. The singing and dancing sequences are acceptable and Tate brings the music off adequately.
The racial issues, which the film deals with, have some truth, but the details are inaccurate. In 1957 audiences in some venues were segregated, but in others were mixed and not a problem. The idea that this music helped end segregation is mentioned, but not really seen, except for the incredible scene of Frankie dancing with a white girl on 'The Big Beat'. This big surprise is very effectively handled and has major impact.
I don't think Nava understands doo-wop or the relationship of the lead singer to the backups. There is a big difference between the Platters, essentially a white pop adultish Ink Spots type group and the Teenagers who were rock 'n' roll, appealing to those under 21. This just never comes across.
Nava does do some clever things, pointed out in the director's cut (not recommended, way too 'Goody, Goody') as he uses a continuous roll camera to suck you in and wrap you around the scene he is filming.
The attempts to stylize 'Fools' mostly works. The theme of creating the four main characters as Earth (Lela Rochon as Emira Eagle), Fire (Halle Berry as Zola Taylor), Water (Vivca Fox as Elizabeth Waters) as the 3 wives to play off Wind (Tate-Frankie) is clever and consistent. The use of scatchy 8MM flash backs is a bit over done, but gets the point of flashbacks across.
All three of the parts of the wives suffer from being overly dramatic (and over acted)with the need to fit truth to the story, rather than the other way around.
Most disturbing is the handling of Frankie's music. Its hard to tell his solo work from his Teenagers stuff and the sequencing of the music is out of order. At least Nava makes it clear Frankie was not a 'One hit wonder' and he had four years of outstanding singles and (not mentioned at all) some super albums, mostly as a solo. As one of the wives mentions, above all "he could sing my panties off". If you don't think so, play Frankie's version of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" followed by the weak, sad Diana Ross version.
Next time Mr. Gregory Nava when doing an autobiography spend as much time keeping your facts straight and in order, as you do with clever stylization.
Not recommended unless your a fan of any of the elements involved. Wanna a good music bio from more or less the same period and effectively dealing with drug addiction, watch "Ray" the magnificent Ray Charles story.
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