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Bessie (2015)

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The story of legendary blues performer Bessie Smith, who rose to fame during the 1920s and '30s.

Director:

Dee Rees

Writers:

Dee Rees (screenplay), Christopher Cleveland (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
4,502 ( 1,291)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 23 wins & 45 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Tika Sumpter ... Lucille
Michael Kenneth Williams ... Jack Gee
Oliver Platt ... Carl Van Vechten
Queen Latifah ... Bessie Smith
Bryan Greenberg ... John Hammond
Khandi Alexander ... Viola
Mike Epps ... Richard
Charles S. Dutton ... William 'Pa' Rainey
Mo'Nique ... Ma Rainey
Tory Kittles ... Clarence
Jessejames Locorriere ... Vanity Fair Editor
Jeremie Harris ... Langston Hughes
Crystal Lee Brown ... Bessie's Dancer
Terence Rosemore ... Detroit Theater Manager
L. Warren Young ... Sharkish Man
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Storyline

The story of legendary blues performer Bessie Smith, who rose to fame during the 1920s and '30s.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Queen brings Bessie back to life.

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 May 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

В блюзе только Бесси See more »

Filming Locations:

Olde Town Conyers, Georgia, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles S. Dutton, who plays Pa Rainey, made his Broadway debut in 1984 in August Wlson's play "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." See more »

Quotes

Bessie Smith: No yellow bitch in my show!
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Soundtracks

Sea Lion Woman
Traditional
Performed by Tamar-kali
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Lady sings the blues
19 September 2015 | by Prismark10See all my reviews

I knew little about Bessie Smith before this film and really none the wiser after it. Her life story differed little from other Queen of Blues from that era.

Queen Latifah stars in this HBO film as Bessie Smith who was one of the most popular female blues singers in the 1920s and 30s.

The film takes an episodic look at her life as well as flashbacks to traumatic parts of her childhood. We see Bessie being transformed to a struggling act with her brother to have the stage presence to sing the blues. We see her dalliance with both men and women, her volatile temper and her dealings with crooked businessmen and the casual racism of the time.

The film like a lot of biopics these days has almost a cookie cutter approach totally lacking in originality. Just by the synopsis of the film I had a good idea what the story was going to be about. It had no surprises apart from seeing Queen Latifah in the nude.

The writing seems poor at times. Bessie suddenly adopts a boy and its implied her man (Jack Gee) is the father of this child. She becomes wealthy and suddenly we have the great depression and Bessie has downsized. The plot did not always flow too well and given Bessie died at a relatively young age in an automobile accident this was not covered in the film.

However the there is some good production values, set design and cinematography. The cast do their best despite the script.


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