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Sparkle [DVD 1/2/07]

 

The Diva's review of Sparkle (1976) DVD (released 2007)

Before Dreamgirls, there was this tale of heartbreak
in the world of show-business …
SPARKLE Debuting on DVD January 2, 2007
Stars Irene Cara, Lonette McKee and Phillip Michael Thomas
Includes Bonus Soundtrack CD
Featuring the Music of Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin

Warner Home Video

Release Date -- January 2, 2007
Retail Link

sparkle
Rated PG; running time of 1 hour and 38 minutes
Genre: Musical
Written by: Joel Schumacher
Directed by: Sam O'Steen
Cast: Irene Cara, Lonette McKee, Dwan Smith, Mary Alice, Philip Michael Thomas, and Dorian Harewood
Music: Curtis Mayfield



WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW

The Digest

Effie (Mary Alice) is trying to raise her three teenaged daughters in 1950s Harlem, which isn't easy. Because she is a single parent, she is not home as often as she would like. She's a maid for a rich white family and sometimes she must stay late to handle dinner party, because of this the girls are responsible for themselves. The girls don't give her much trouble. Sister (Lonette McKee) the eldest, is fast –too fast; she's already running around with men. In fact one of her suitors has given her a ring that cost $17 dollars and has a real diamond chip in it. Next up is Delores, middle girl. As middle children tend to do, she sinks into the background. It doesn't help that she looks different than her sisters. She has smooth and pretty brown skin, the color of a "Hershey Kiss." She has short manageable hair while both of her sisters have long tresses and so-called "good hair.” And finally, there's Sparkle, the baby girl. She has taken on the role of helpmate and peace keeper. She adores her older sisters and her mother. She will do anything to keep them happy. All the while, she is cultivating a relationship with a young man from the neighborhood named "Stix" (Phillip Michael Thomas). Stix - who besides being Sparkle's boyfriend, is an aspiring musician - and Sister's latest boyfriend, Levi, have a great idea. They have time on their hands and the girls can sing, so why not form a singing group? The five of them form "The Hearts" and they start touring the local clubs for amateur night and before you know it, they are a local hit. . . and that's when the problems start. Can the girls work through their problems and remain a family or will semi-fame destroy them?

The Dish

I couldn’t get enough of this movie. I've seen it about 300 times. I’ve waited years for it to come out, so everyone can see what I’ve been raving about for years. The marketing surrounding this is basically, Before there was “Dreamgirls”, there was Sparkle. This is somewhat true. Legend has it the legendary Broadway Director/Writer/Producer/Choreographer, Michael Bennett and Writer Tim Eyen saw “Sparkle”, and coupled with the story of The Supremes, “Dreamgirls” was born. I see more of a parallel to The Supremes than “Sparkle”- but that’s just my opinion. I'm most in love with Curtis Mayfield's soundtrack: "Giving Up," "Look Into Your Heart,” "Jump," and "Giving Him Something He Can Feel." Classic Curtis Mayfield. . . ghetto anthems. You probably remember “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” when En Vogue did it in the early 90s. My favorite song is “Giving Up”.. It’s such a powerfully heartbreaking song that it makes you want to just cry. Especially when Sister at the end of her rope holding it together with a string is belting it out. It is then that you truly get the essence of that song. That image never leaves me, even when listening to Donny Hathaway’s amazing rendition of it. This soundtrack is just astounding. Now I read somewhere a long time ago, so don’t quote on this, but there was some marketing reason why the soundtrack was done by Aretha Franklin as opposed to the original cast. They didn’t think it would sell as well with the cast voices. I have NO proof of this and I might be misremembering, but that is stuck in my head for some reason. I never understood and no disrespect to Ms. Franklin, I think it was a stupid choice.

Kudos to Joel Schumacher for bringing us Sparkle, Car Wash, and The Wiz. I love him for it every day.

And when are they going to remake this movie? After 30 years I think it’s okay to contemplate this. Alicia Keys as Sister, maybe?

The DVD

DVD SPECS


Number of Discs: 1


Subtitles: English

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Unfortunately there aren’t any but the theatrical trailer. Boo Hiss. I can’t imagine why no one participated in adding some extras. Perhaps they weren’t asked either way it’s just a shame. They’re all still alive and this would have been a perfect chance to talk about the magic that is this film. That isn’t the only bone I have to pick. And I’m pretty angry about this too – why in the HELL did they change the color of the dresses on the cover of the DVD? Those red dresses are infamous. Every girl I knew, myself included, was willing to slap their grandmother if it meant they could wear that red dress. Really what were they thinking by changing them to blue? Dumb.

The Directive

 

When people ask me what movies from the Blaxploitation era they should see, “Sparkle” is always on my list. It doesn’t fit the true form of Blaxploitation and that’s what makes it all the more appealing to me. A gem nestled in a sea of hard core violence; pimpology; and sticking it to the man; is a story about some girls just trying to get out of Harlem. Buy this movie.

3BC Ratings

green light

 

I used this phrase earlier- Ghetto Anthem. And this is not a derogatory statement. This is the age old story of getting out of the ghetto and surviving while you’re there.

 


Copyright Kamal “The Diva” Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2006
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