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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.

Director:

Taylor Hackford

Writers:

Taylor Hackford (story), James L. White (story) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
3,253 ( 752)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 52 wins & 54 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jamie Foxx ... Ray Charles
Kerry Washington ... Della Bea Robinson
Regina King ... Margie Hendricks
Clifton Powell ... Jeff Brown
Harry Lennix ... Joe Adams
Bokeem Woodbine ... Fathead Newman
Aunjanue Ellis ... Mary Ann Fisher
Sharon Warren ... Aretha Robinson
C.J. Sanders ... Young Ray Robinson
Curtis Armstrong ... Ahmet Ertegun
Richard Schiff ... Jerry Wexler
Larenz Tate ... Quincy Jones
Terrence Howard ... Gossie McGee (as Terrence Dashon Howard)
David Krumholtz ... Milt Shaw
Wendell Pierce ... Wilbur Brassfield
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Storyline

The story of Ray Charles, music legend. Told in his adult live with flashbacks to his youth we see his humble origins in Florida, his turbulent childhood which included losing his brother and then his sight, his rise as pianist in a touring band, his writing his own songs and running his own band and then stardom. Also includes his addiction to drugs and its affect on his working life and family life. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The extraordinary life story of Ray Charles. A man who fought harder and went farther than anyone thought possible. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for depiction of drug addiction, sexuality and some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 October 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$20,039,730, 31 October 2004, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$75,331,600

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$124,731,534
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ray Charles, aware he was diagnosed with hepatitis-C during the filming of this movie, confided to friends that if he had known he was going to live so long he would have taken better care of himself. See more »

Goofs

When Marjorie leaves Ray, she has two suitcases in her hands, then she throws one of the suitcases on the floor, walks through the door, and never comes back for the other suitcase. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Aretha Robinson: Always remember your promise to me. Never let nobody or nothing turn you into no cripple.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Ray Charles is survived by 12 children, 21 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren. See more »

Alternate Versions

Universal Pictures Oscar Edition contains Extended Cut of the film. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Oscars (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Yesterdays
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Otto A. Harbach
Performed by Johnny O'Neill
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Phenomenal biographical film with intense and memorable performances
28 June 2005 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

Jamie Foxx leads a brilliant cast in this powerful voyage through the life of the blind, emotionally troubled, African American genius of pop jazz, Mr. Ray Charles. Though the entire cast performs wonderfully, Mr. Foxx earned more than simply an Oscar. If it were possible to nominate an actor in consecutive years, I would consider doing so for Mr. Foxx. Foxx doesn't just play Charles, he re-creates him. CJ Sanders and Sharon Warren also deserve special mention for their portrayal of Ray's mother (the inspiration of his life) and young Ray. These two provided the strongest support in the film.

The dramas of Charles' struggles with guilt, the death of his younger brother and mother, blindness, discrimination, addiction, and success, are neatly woven into the tapestries of his music. The music is beautiful, the script is, as far as I can tell, perfect, and the acting is nothing short of legendary.

The directorial method of the film warrants discussion. Taylor Hackford - a director I am generally ambivalent about - had to choose what aspects of the larger-than-life and complex life story of Mr. Charles would tell his story most honestly, dramatically, and understandably. Though some disagree (seemingly wanting a documentary instead of a dramatized biopic) I believe he selected his themes admirably. A big part of the success of this film is its consistent focus on a few persistent themes in Charles' life - his profound love and respect for his mother, his need to be loved and accepted, his addiction and guilt complex, his musical genius, and his deep-seated fear of responsibility for others. Charles is depicted as a man struggling valiantly against an army of personal demons. I learned more than I could have imagined about one of the men I used to listen to on my old turntable with my dad in his livingroom on Sunday nights while football games were on the TV. And nothing was sugar-coated in "Ray." The themes are carried forward with power and human dignity. These themes create a unifying drama which span the length of his long and illuminated life. The power of these themes, the strong script and directing, the music, and the acting make this one of the most enjoyable and evocative biographical films I have seen.

Recommended for everyone.


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