6.6/10
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Bessie (2015)

TV-MA | | Biography, Drama, Music | TV Movie 16 May 2015
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The story of legendary blues performer Bessie Smith, who rose to fame during the 1920s and '30s.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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4,924 ( 176)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 23 wins & 45 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Jack Gee
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Lucille
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Carl Van Vechten
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John Hammond
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Viola
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Richard
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William 'Pa' Rainey
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Clarence
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Langston Hughes
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Bessie's Dancer
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Sharkish Man
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Detroit Theater Manager
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Fania Van Vechten
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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 »

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Details

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Release Date:

16 May 2015 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

В блюзе только Бесси  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mo'Nique was offered the role of Viola, but she refused because she had played that type of character before. Reading the script, she liked Ma Rainey and asked HBO if it was possible to play that character. See more »

Quotes

Ma Rainey: Remember what I told you about the blues? If you're not risking nothing, neither would they.
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Soundtracks

Laugh, Clown, Laugh
Written by Joe Young, Sam Lewis (as Sam M. Lewis), Ted Fio Rito (as Ted Fiorito)
Performed by Cecile McLorin Salvant
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Definitely NOT "about the music"

The year was 1972 and the challenge for director Sidney J. Furie was how to translate the biography of Billie Holliday into something that had "bite" for the mainstream.

He succeeded, in large part by his decision to make the story as much about the music as the personal travails of the famous singer.

At the time it seemed the obvious choice. Yet, flash forward 43 years and today the team behind this project, faced with the exact same choice, took the road less travelled.

It is not as if Queen L. does not have a set of pipes. After years of appearing in a string of "commodity" lifetime/lifestyle/X-mas movies -- in parts which leveraged off her infectious natural sweetness -- she stunned audiences worldwide with her performance of I KNOW WHERE I've BEEN in 2007.

(For the record, how perfect was she in that performance?? This reviewer has that song in every mix he owns and never gets tired of it. Her performance was so flawless that she could have won IDOL on that single track alone.)

This is a hard film to review. A lot of talent behind the camera, a lot of talent in front of the camera, and all of it hamstrung by the executive decision to downplay the music and focus on the strife.

Larger than life people have larger than life problems. But we already knew that. Personally, I missed the tunes.


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