Apr 20, 2015

Sparkle (1976)

I was in a New York hotel room and a movie with an all-Black cast screened on a television station that features predominantly Black programming.

I returned to my room in the wee hours of the morning and browsed for something to watch on television. A movie with Black actors and actresses on the screen caught my attention and interest more than most of the I showcases I attended that week.

The film reminded me of Dreamgirls in many ways. There was a trio of singing females similar to The Supremes. The central member of the trio seemed to be the most troubled or had demons to face.   

There was no mention about the movie I was watching until the credits rolled at the end. I learned it was called Sparkle. 

I can’t help but notice the differences between the little of the 1976 Sparkle film I watched in New York and the little I’ve seen from the remake. I remember the cinematography of the Sparkle original being darker and grittier. The scenes related to the nightclub performances as well as the physical and drug abuse were very authentic and would not have benefited from the sparkling and vibrant choices of the remake. I am sure Diana Ross’ Lady Sings The Blues was a prime source of inspiration for the original Sparkle.

I recognized Irene Cara, Philip Michael-Thomas of Miami Vice fame and actress Lonette McKee among the original cast. As much as I knew I was watching a younger Michael Thomas, his features were still more mature than the young men in the Sparkle remake. In a number of films starring Blacks I was aware of as a child, McKee was usually the female lead. 


From the little I saw of the original Sparkle, I vowed to see it again somehow someway and would be inclined to order it if no Montreal video store provided me a copy to rent.

My goal is to see the original prior to the Sparkle remake so that I can better understand the artistic differences and, if possible, similarities of both films.

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