RICHARD PRYOR DOUBLE HIT!
It’s appropriate to draw attention to the contributions of Richard Pryor to Paramount Pictures during Black History Month. For this installment of our 100 Years of Paramount Pictures series, it’s a Pryor double feature: 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues and 1973’s Hit! It’s also a Sidney J. Furie double feature—he directed both pictures (and uses many of the same actors in the pair). And finally, the films are a tribute to one of the most talented leading men of the 1970s, Billy Dee Williams, who stars in both of them. First is Lady Sings the Blues, which celebrates the fortieth anniversary of its release in 1972. In an era of black action films, Lady Sings the Blues was unique; it was a lively and powerful depiction of a figure important in both black and mainstream culture: jazz and blues icon Billie Holiday. Portrayed by Diana Ross, who received a Best Actress nomination for her performance (1972 was a milestone, the first time two African American actresses were nominated—Cicely Tyson also received a nod for Sounder), Holiday is enveloped by mood and is able to convey her empathy through song. Pryor is her accompanist, Piano Man, and the film was his introduction to crossover audiences, and it propelled him into stardom. Co-starring again with Williams in Hit!, Pryor takes on an unusual role: He’s suffering through the loss of his wife, a casualty in the war on drugs. Williams stars as a CIA agent whose daughter met the same fate. He recruits Pryor as part of a team to silence a French drug kingpin. Written by Alan Trustman, who scripted The Thomas Crown Affair, Hit! was said to have been written for Steve McQueen, and that Williams was cast in it shows how broad his appeal had become.
We’re looking forward to seeing you February 10 for this incredible double feature!
February 6th, 2012 • No Comments