Lady Sings the Blues

Watch Lady Sings the Blues

"Diana Ross is Billie Holiday. Diana Ross sings Billie Holiday. And a superstar is born."
  • R
  • 1972
  • 2 hr 24 min
  • 7.0  (4,863)

In Lady Sings the Blues, director Sidney J. Furie offers a dramatic biographical look into the life of Billie Holiday, one of the most renowned jazz singers of all time. The movie stars Diana Ross as Billie Holiday, Billy Dee Williams as her lifelong friend and manager Louis McKay, and Richard Pryor as her piano player, pianist nicknamed 'Piano Man.'

The movie opens with Billie in prison, and then flashes back to her early life –as a teenager in a brothel–, struggling with poverty and addiction. Her tough journey into adult life follows as she begins singing in small clubs and honing her talent, getting assistance from Pianist 'Piano Man.' But when she meets Louis McKay, her life starts to take a positive turn. Although she is reluctant at first, McKay convinces her of his sincerity and together they embark on a tumultuous, addictive but loving relationship that changes both of their lives.

Lady Sings the Blues focuses heavily on the emotional struggles of Billie Holiday’s life, her addictions, personal demons, and her journey to become one of the most celebrated singers of all time. It takes us through Billie's rough upbringing with abusive parents, the early days of her singing career, and ultimately, her battle with addiction and the racism that plagued her.

The film explores the love between Holiday and McKay, whose love story is as fraught as the singer's own complicated life. The theme of addiction is also prevalent throughout, as Billie battles with narcotics that she uses to numb the pain of her difficult past. And at the helm of it all, is Diana Ross, who delivers an outstanding performance as Billie, bringing her soulful voice to the forefront of every scene.

Ross delivers powerful performances of Billie's most iconic songs, including 'My Man,' and 'God Bless the Child,' showcasing both her incredible singing ability and her striking resemblance to the legendary jazz singer. Her performance earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination and proved that she was more than just a singer, she was a force to be reckoned with on the big screen as well.

Billy Dee Williams portrays Billie's manager Louis McKay with poise, wisdom, and the necessary strength needed to handle a difficult and volatile woman like Billie Holiday. He gives a nuanced performance as Billie's lover and friend, providing much-needed stability and support during her darkest moments.

In the role of the 'Piano Man', Richard Pryor plays a pivotal role in Billie's life, providing her with musical accompaniment and struggling with Billie's drug addiction. Pryor gives a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching performance that rounds out the all-star cast.

The film’s production value is excellent, depicting the 1930s and 40s with stunning attention to detail. The costumes and sets are a visual treat, and the score by legendary composer Michel Legrand is fittingly emotional, complimenting the on-screen drama perfectly.

Lady Sings the Blues is a captivating film that draws the viewer in with its intense character arcs and emotional storytelling. It's a biopic that doesn't shy away from exploring the complexities of Billie Holiday's life, offering a heart-wrenching look into the difficult journey that led her to the stage. The raw, powerful performances by Ross, Williams, and Pryor help bring Holiday's story to life, making for an unforgettable cinematic experience.

Lady Sings the Blues
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 24 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (4,863)