Nat King Cole: Afraid Of The Dark

Watch Nat King Cole: Afraid Of The Dark

  • TV-14
  • 2014
  • 1 hr 34 min
  • 7.0  (510)

Nat King Cole: Afraid of the Dark is a 2014 American documentary film that is based on the life and legacy of Nat 'King' Cole. The film is directed by Jon Brewer and features interviews with some of the most iconic figures in the music industry, such as Tony Bennett and Quincy Jones, as well as rare performances by Nat King Cole. The film takes its name from a quote by Nat King Cole himself: "I'm not afraid of the dark; I just don't like to walk in it". This statement refers to a theme that runs throughout the film, which is Cole's struggle to navigate the hostile racial climate of the mid-twentieth century, both in his personal and professional life.

The documentary charts Nat King Cole's life from his humble beginnings in Montgomery, Alabama, to his rise to fame as one of the most successful African-American performers of the 20th century. The film covers his enduring legacy, which continues to inspire and influence contemporary musicians to this day.

The documentary provides an intimate insight into Nat King Cole's life, including his deep love for his family and the challenges he faced as a black man in a predominantly white entertainment industry. It covers the early part of his career spent playing jazz piano in small clubs, and his eventual breakthrough into the mainstream with hits such as "Mona Lisa" and "Unforgettable".

Throughout the film, Nat King Cole's private life is brought into focus, with interviews from his daughter Natalie Cole, who speaks about her father's passion for both music and family, as well as his tendency to keep his emotions close to his chest. Friends, collaborators and contemporaries of Cole's are also interviewed, including Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, and Quincy Jones. These interviews serve to paint a detailed portrait of the man behind the music.

One of the main strengths of the documentary is the inclusion of rare footage of Nat King Cole performing. The film showcases never-before-seen footage of Cole's TV show, The Nat King Cole Show, which ran from 1956-1957 as one of the first nationally televised programs hosted by an African-American. The show was a cultural milestone, and the film explores the difficulties Cole encountered whilst trying to make it a success.

The documentary also explores Nat King Cole's political activism, and his contribution to the civil rights movement. Cole's decision to perform in front of segregated audiences in the south earned him criticism from some within the black community, who accused him of "selling out." The film shines a light on the complexity of Cole's position, and his unwavering commitment to using his platform to effect change.

The musical performances in the film are a highlight. Nat King Cole's smooth, soulful voice is showcased in stunning detail, as are his talents as a jazz pianist. The film also features other artists covering Nat King Cole's music, including Gregory Porter, who performs a stirring rendition of "Mona Lisa".

Overall, Nat King Cole: Afraid of the Dark is a compelling and insightful look into one of the most iconic performers in American musical history. The film offers an intimate portrayal of Cole's life, his struggles, and his enduring legacy. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of American popular music, and for fans of Nat King Cole in particular.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 34 min
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (510)