tend to follow formulaic paths, depicting incidents in the life
of an important person, but often lacking the dramatic story
line to impart power to the tale. Introducing Dorothy
Dandridge, from a biography by Earl Mills, may not avoid
those typical pitfalls, but it does have Halle Berry in as an
amazing force in the title role.
Berry is the center of gravity for the
biography of the young black actress who's promising career
ultimately did not pass "Go." Dorothy starts out as
part of girl singing act and winds up in the arms of big time
black dancer, Harold Nicholas, played with lots of enthusiasm by
Obba Babbtunde. Propelling Dorothy into the spotlight, the
initial charm of Nicholas's courtship turns into a marriage with
tragedy at its heart. Their daughter is born with severe mental
limitations and this, coupled with Nicholas's roving eye for the
ladies, puts a unbearable strain on their marriage. But Dorothy
Living in Hollywood, Dorothy gets a few
shots in minor movies, but her career turns around with the
introduction of agent/mentor Earl Mills. Mills, as played by Star
Trek: Next Generation mainstay Brent Spiner, is a rather
boring guy, and he has a big part in this Dorothy Dandridge
story since it is based on his biography of the actress. Mills
gets Dorothy a shot at the starring role in Otto Preminger's all
black Hollywood musical, Carmen Jones. Dorothy sells herself for
the role so well that she captures the heart of director
Preminger as well. Their romantic liaison forms one the pillars
of this Dandridge story, but it never ignites the fire needed.
Klaus Maria Brandauer is effective in the role. Rebounding from
Preminger, Dorothy scrapes the bottom of the romantic barrel in
her marriage to promoter and con man Jack Dennison.
There are short set pieces in which
Dorothy stands up to the ugly face of racial prejudice, but
these are standard scenes meant more to learn about Dorothy's
character than the racial climate of the period. Family
relationships reveal more about what events shaped Dorothy's
character, contributing to her eventual downfall.
Framed from a conventional biopic
device of Dorothy looking back on her career, the script wanders
in a fairly chronological order, making it easy enough to
follow. Some time periods are shadowy and compressed, but
this is the nature of the biopic beast. Martha Coolidge sits the
director's chair on solid ground, but in the end, it is the
fascination of watching Berry perform in this charismatic role
that makes Introducing Dorothy Dandridge a cut about the typical
Considering the original television
origin, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge has some excellent
production values. Maybe it's the way Halle Berry fills up those
dresses, but they sure look glamorous and period authentic. The
costumes and sets never betray budget limitations and that's
high praise indeed.
The full frame transfer is easy
watching, without standing out in any area. It's sharp enough,
colors rich enough and the Dolby Digital 2-channel sound is
consistently clean. Perhaps the DVD could have used a bit more
visual punch, but nothing stands in the way of enjoying the
Berry performance and the fine production design.
Archive has articles
ranging from John Ford to Blonde
Kurosawa and Frank
Click on the image above to learn more about the effect of
an actor's voice on his screen persona.
Check out the Movie
for short bios and images of Susan Hayward, Kirk Douglas,
Katharine Hepburn and many more. This month's featured star
Science Foundation promotes proper standards in home theater
viewing. ISF trained technicians offer monitor calibration
services to consumers. The difference in a properly
calibrated monitor can be astounding. Click on the image to find
an ISF member near you.
may be judgmental, but that's the point, isn't it. Lots of DVD
reviews plus news and more
Home Theater Forum
lively and helpful exchanges on home theater, DVD, movies. Visit
this friendly site and get a hardy welcome.
Theater Reference Reviewing System
When you read a DVD review it's of utmost importance to know
what equipment is being used to evaluate quality. Click on the
projector to find out more.