Black Star

Lady Sings the Blues

Sidney J. FurieUSA144 minutes1972PGColourEnglish

Dec 21
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    Many doubted that Diana Ross, the poster girl of Motown glamour, was the right choice for the lead in this warts-and-all biopic of Billie Holliday, who was often as low on confidence as she was high on narcotics. However, Ross surprised everyone with her deeply moving portrayal of the famously troubled jazz legend, whose traumatic early life — which included stints in reform school, a brief career as a prostitute, and jail time — was transformed (for both good and ill) when her astounding vocal talents were recognized after she began singing in Harlem nightclubs in the late 1920s. Ross, who earned one of the film's five Oscar nominations, is given fine support by co-stars Billy Dee Williams (as Holliday's lover Louis McKay) and Richard Pryor (as "Piano Man," Holliday's fictionalized accompanist and confidante).

    Print courtesy of UNCSA Moving Image Archives.