Ray Charles has the distinction of being both a national treasure and an international phenomenon. By the early 1960’s Ray Charles had accomplished his dream. He’d come of age musically. He’d made it to Carnegie Hall. The hit records “Georgia,” “Born to Lose” successively kept climbing to the top of the charts. He’d made his first triumphant European concert tour in 1960 (a feat which, except for 1965, he’s repeated at least once a year ever since). He had taken virtually every form of popular music and broken through its boundaries with such awe inspiring achievements as the LP’s “Genius Plus Soul Equals Jazz” and “Modern Sounds in Country & Western.” Rhythm & blues (or “race music” as it had been called) became universally respectable through his efforts. Jazz found a mainstream audience it had never previously enjoyed. And country & western music began to chart an unexpected course to general acceptance, then worldwide popularity. And along the way Ray Charles was instrumental in the invention of rock & roll. Born in a poor African American town in central Florida, Ray Charles went blind at the age of 7. With the staunch support of his determined single mother, he developed the fierce resolve, wit and incredible talent that would eventually enable him to overcome not only Jim Crow Racism and the cruel prejudices against the blind, but also discover his own sound which revolutionized American popular music. Nonetheless, as Ray’s unprecedented fame grew, so did his weakness for drugs and women, until they threatened to strip away the very things he held most dear. This little known story of Ray Charles’ meteoric rise from humble beginnings, his successful struggle to excel in a sighted world and his eventual defeat of his own personal demons make for an inspiring and unforgettable true story of human triumph. –IMDb
American producer/director Taylor Hackford was hired by a Los Angeles TV station after his two-year hitch in the Peace Corps. On his own, he created New Visions Productions, which he eventually merged into the New Century Company before giving up producing to concentrate on directing. He won an Academy Award in 1978 for Teenage Father, a short-subject elaboration of a TV news story on which he’d previously worked. Hackford’s first feature was The Idolmaker (1980), a jaundiced recreation of the “Philadelphia school” of ‘50s rock & roll; he later returned to the rarefied world of vintage rock in his Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba and his revelatory documentary Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll (both 1987). He also directed Dolores Claiborne (1995), the Al Pacino vehicle The Devil’s Advocate (1997), and edited the boxing documentary When We Were Kings (1996). Though Hackford has toted up some impressive credits over his career, few… read more
Mr. Charles, how can you music be so good, but your film so bad? Wonderful production design and documentary style cinematography but the story and structure is just too bulky.