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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Video Beaverhausen: Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues

I remember going to see Lady Sings the Blues when it just opened at theaters. I was attending University of Colorado in 1972 when my friend, Lynne, and I went to a theater on the edge of town. I remember it was windy and the tumbleweed was sweeping all over the ground that night, making our walk to the movies cumbersome at best.

I also recall Diana Ross giving a powerful, star-worthy performance she received an Academy Award nomination for her tour-de-force acting.

Lady Sings the Blues is very old-school Hollywood biopic. It was even upon its release. And that's what everyone loved about it. It was a box-office smash. It was also critically praised, generally,

This was Miss Ross' first and best screen acting job. She shimmered like a legendary superstar. Unfortunately, after her debut on the silver screen, the quality of the films she did suffered.

Lady Sings the Blues is the sugar-coated true story of Billie Holiday. The drug and rehab scenes, however, are harrowing and haunting. Lady Day's life was much more troubled. Also, I'm not sure the film makes clear what a huge success Holiday was in her time.

The movie was directed by Sidney J, Furie. Hunky Billie Dee Williams plays Diana's love interest (a fictional character since Holiday was basically a lesbian), and Richard Pryor is wonderful as the character only known as Piano Man, a tragi-comic part.

The film was a real breakthrough for black talent.

Still, this is a wonderful film to curl up with on video. The best-selling soundtrack is still available as well. Music orchestrated by Michel Legrand. Co-produced by Berry Gordy. A Paramount release.

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